Do you know what experts are saying about child abuse right now?
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~Fred Rogers
These are unprecedented times we are in, and we sincerely hope this message finds you & your family healthy and well.
With much of our country & world shut down, the work CASA does to support and protect children in foster care in our community must go on.
Emma Platoff writes in her recent article in The Texas Tribune, “The safety of our most vulnerable children should be first & foremost – this situation puts them more at risk.”
With so much uncertainty during these times, there is one thing we do know – you can help make sure that every single child in foster care in our county is safe, secure, and will end up in a loving, permanent home.
325 CASA Advocates served 815 children in foster care in Montgomery County last year.
Last year, 815 children in Montgomery County were in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS) due to abuse and neglect. Experts are predicting that number will increase due to the pandemic. With children out of school and families forced to stay home, combined with additional stress and fear, abuse and neglect are more likely.
With schools and day cares closed, abuse is also less likely to be detected and reported.
According to an article in The Texas Tribune published on March 27th, “Between late February and mid-March, as Texans’ daily lives contracted under closures and cancellations, hotline tips to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services fell from 11,179 a week to 9,344.
“But child welfare workers recognize that pattern: They see the same drop in numbers each summer when schools are out and there are fewer teachers and day care workers watching over children and alerting officials to possible abuse.”
At CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County, we are adapting to the new social distancing guidelines in order for our volunteers to continue their important advocacy work for children in foster care.
Advocates are reaching out to the children they serve by phone instead of in person, but they’re connecting with greater frequency than they would have in more normal circumstances. Court is still being held, and our committed Advocates are attending by phone or remotely via video conference meetings. Training for new Advocates has been converted mostly to virtual, online group sessions.
Advocates are making sure these children from hard places are being taken care of during this time of uncertainty.
We’d like to share a few of their stories with you.
- One Advocate, Shellie, was serving four siblings. Shellie found out from their caregiver that she needed diapers and wipes but couldn’t find them at any stores. Shellie tried many stores in her area as well without success. She finally sourced diapers through a non-profit resource center and drove more than 100 miles round trip to pick up and deliver these items on their doorstep. From the driveway, Shellie checked in on the children as the family gathered on their porch. The kids said how happy and excited they were for the coloring books, reading books, and crayons that had been delivered as well. The caregiver was so very grateful, especially for those needed diapers!
- Another Advocate, Maria, tells us that she is using Facetime to chat with the children on her case. Unlike a phone call, the app allows the Advocate to see the children during their visit. Maria also mailed home made Easter cards to the children, much to their delight.
- Advocate Lucy worked to find a pediatrician to help a child on her case – a particularly difficult task due to the virus.
- One Advocate, Mike, is connecting his families with formula and food sources.
- Another Advocate, Caroline, left a book in her child’s mailbox and informed the caregiver; the child then read the book and discussed it with Caroline the next time they spoke over the phone.
- Advocate Julia gave witness testimony from home during the first-ever Zoom trial in CCL court, answering questions about her case from the County Attorney and the attorney for the child.
- Advocate Paul reports that he has made weekly contact with his child’s caregiver, her grandmother, to check on their welfare and offered to assist them if they had any needs. Paul has also been forwarding onto the caregiver any virus-related materials that may be useful for her. The grandmother is retired and on social security, so Paul also passed along relevant information related to the the stimulus check she should be receiving. One of his biggest concerns for the child is limited connectivity for completing schoolwork and connecting with other family members. Paul has been sharing some of the tools and apps that will help. Finally, Paul sent the child a card and some stickers with a note of encouragement, letting her know he was thinking of her.
We want to continue to provide every single one of these children with an Advocate to be by their side, speaking up for their best interest, making sure their needs are being met.
You can help give every child a chance!
May is National Foster Care month. This month, our goal is to help an additional 30 children by providing them with a volunteer Advocate on their journey to a permanent and happy home.
Before this pandemic, about 6 children entered foster care in our county each week, and it costs approximately $1,500 to provide one child with an Advocate for one year. That’s why our goal for this campaign is to raise $45,000 by May 30th.
If we raise that amount, we’ll be able to provide 30 children in foster care with Advocates for a whole year.
We need your help to make it happen.
Referred to as the “eyes and ears of the court,” Advocates are community volunteers – people just like you who believe that every child deserves to be loved, cared for, and protected. The Advocate speaks for the child in court, and looks out for their best interest with things like medical care, education, and housing.
Most importantly, CASA volunteers are often the only consistent, positive adult in the lives of abused and neglected children during a time of chaos, confusion, and hurt.
CASA is a volunteer organization. Our Advocates are all highly trained community volunteers. But there are costs to our work. (Broken down, it amounts to a little more than $4 a day to provide a trained CASA Advocate to a child in need.)
We simply can’t do it without you.
Your support will make a real, lasting impact for a foster child that is still in need.
Every single child deserves a chance. That chance is you!
I’m writing to you today to ask you: Can you help these kids? Can you find it in your heart to make sure they too have a CASA Advocate to be there for them?
To make a difference for a child today, Donate here.
Imagine how good it will feel to know you made such a lasting difference in the life of a child.
Thank you for your continued support and partnership.
CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County
P.S. By giving a gift to CASA today, you’ll give a child hope. Join us, and you will change a child’s life, forever.