April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County is raising awareness about child abuse and neglect and the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers.
When a child is placed in the foster care system due to abuse or neglect, they are often removed from their home and placed in state care – sometimes far away from their family, loved ones and community. CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are everyday people from all walks of life who are recruited and specially trained to advocate for these children and provide a consistent, reliable adult presence for them during a difficult time in their life.
“In addition to the trauma they have already experienced due to the initial abuse or neglect, foster care can take a toll on children,” said Ann McAlpin, Executive Director of CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County. “They need an Advocate who will get to know them, speak up for them and ensure their needs are met while they are in the system, and that is what our volunteers provide.”
CASA volunteers are assigned to one child or sibling group to advocate for their best interest in court, in school and in other settings. They get to know the child and everyone involved in their life, such as family members, foster parents, therapists and teachers, in order to develop a realistic picture of the child’s unique situation. They make recommendations to the judge overseeing the child’s case, with the goal of ensuring that the child is safe and has the resources needed to heal.
“Even one child victim of abuse or neglect is too many, and it is critical that we continue to raise awareness of this issue in our community and nationwide,” said McAlpin. “But becoming a CASA volunteer is a way to take it beyond just awareness, and do your part to help break the cycle for future generations.”
Statewide, the CASA movement is growing faster than ever before. Last year, the 71 CASA programs in Texas recruited a total of 10,856 CASA volunteers to advocate for 30,136 children.
Locally, 330 CASA volunteers served 802 children in the foster care system in Montgomery County in 2018 – 100% of children in care in the county. However on average, more than 7 children enter foster care in Montgomery County each week. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference for these children by becoming a CASA volunteer.
“We at CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County always hope for the day when CASA and a national month dedicated to child abuse prevention are no longer needed because all children have the safe, loving home they deserve,” said McAlpin. “Until then, we will continue to seek more members of the community to join our growing movement, and we will not rest until we can provide a CASA volunteer for every child who needs one.”
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. If you see abuse, report it to 1 (800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org. If a child’s life is in danger, call 911. View our calendar to see upcoming events, information sessions and training classes.