Each year in April, the President of the United States issues a proclamation to announce National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Many State Governors also issue proclamations to encourage public awareness of child abuse and neglect, recommit State resources to the cause, and promote community involvement through State and local activities.
We’re proud supporters of area organizations who help prevent child abuse. The Victim’s Center, Isabell’s House, The Child Advocacy Center, and CASA are the four organizations in the Ozarks who share the same goal – protecting children from abuse. We’ve been working with and a supporter of CASA of Missouri and their local CASA of Southwest Missouri for a long time. Consider reading the information below and becoming a CASA volunteer.
Every day in America 9,000 children are reported as abused or neglected, 500,000 children are in foster care or institutions and 3 children die from child abuse. Each year in the United States, millions of children are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. They are removed from their homes and placed in some form of foster care. Our local CASA program is constantly challenged to meet the needs of those who cannot speak for themselves. Currently more than 900 children are in foster care in Greene County. Because of the shortage of foster homes here our children are placed in 59 counties and 12 different states.
Eventually the children end up in court. It is up to a judge to decide their future. Should they remain in foster care, be reunited with their parents, or be adopted? That’s where CASA comes in…
CASA is part of the solution for abused and neglected children in foster care. Finding a safe permanent home is not simply a CASA volunteer’s vision for every abused child but it is their paramount objective. CASA is an intervention and prevention program – working to prevent future incidence of abuse and protecting siblings from similar experiences by assisting child welfare professionals and acting as “the eyes and ears” of the Juvenile court judge. CASA has a proven record of success. Children who have a CASA volunteer spend an average of a year less in the foster care system.
Children represented by a CASA volunteer are given a voice: someone who investigates, makes recommendations on their behalf, advocates for services in an environment of scarce resources and challenges the system to do what it is suppose to do for each child. There are no easy answers. It takes time to understand the situation, time to talk to everyone involved, time to find out if it is an isolated incident or an ongoing pattern, time to listen, time to observe and time to understand. CASA volunteers thoroughly investigate the circumstances of each case by reading the Juvenile Court files and visiting the child in foster care, the natural parents, relatives, teachers, day-care workers, therapists and others with relevant information about the child. They make monthly reports and attend meetings and court hearings for their child.
Our CASA program is responding to this need by providing trained community volunteers a challenging, enriching opportunity, and the ability to truly make a difference in the life of a child.
~ Beth Atchison
CASA of Southwest Missouri