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Child Abuse Prevention Month offers opportunity to help neglected children

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA of Southeast Texas is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers.

More support helps CASA break the cycle of abuse and neglect through supporting children and families.

CASA volunteers, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are everyday people from all walks of life who are recruited and specially trained to advocate for children in foster care and provide a consistent, reliable adult presence for them during a difficult time in their life.

“Our volunteers’ first priority is to keep families together whenever safe and possible,” said Meagan Conway, interim executive director of CASA of Southeast Texas. “Foster care is only a temporary solution to the problems at hand. We need to create long-term support networks that work to care for families, make reunification a possibility, and help break the cycle for the next generation.”

In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, CASA of Southeast Texas is displaying 235 blue crosses in the front lawn of the CASA’s office at 2249 Calder Ave. in Beaumont.

More than 200 blue crosses are displayed in the front lawn of CASA’s office in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. (Courtesy photo)

The blue crosses represent the 235 children that lost their lives due to abuse and neglect in Texas in 2019. CASA encourages everyone to drive by the display and take a moment of silence honoring each child’s memory.

CASA volunteers are assigned to one child or sibling group each to advocate for their best interest in court, in school and in other settings.

They get to know the child and everyone involved in his or her life, such as parents and other family members, foster parents, therapists, caseworkers and teachers, in order to develop a realistic picture of the child’s unique situation.

They engage those important to the child and family in order to build a network of support around them, so that the family has access to support and resources after CASA and CPS involvement has ended. They make recommendations to the judge overseeing the child’s case, with the goal of ensuring that the child is safe and the family has the resources, support and healthy relationships needed to heal.

Locally, CASA of Southeast Texas served 465 children in the foster care system in Jefferson County in 2019. This April, consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA volunteer.

“There is still a need for CASA volunteers,” Conway said. “By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can take your efforts beyond just awareness, and do your part to help support children and families right here in our community.”

When reunification is not a possibility for the children they serve, CASA volunteers work to find others that can provide a positive, healthy and loving environment. These can include relatives, friends or other adults that are important in the child’s life—keeping a child connected to their home community.

Statewide, the CASA movement is growing faster than ever before. Last year, the 72 CASA programs in Texas recruited a total of 10,874 CASA volunteers to advocate for 30,432 children.

“We at CASA of Southeast Texas always hope for the day when CASA, foster care and a national month dedicated to child abuse prevention are no longer needed because all children are growing up safe, secure and supported with their families,” Conway said.

“Until then, we will continue to seek more members of the community to join our growing movement so that 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 800-252-5400 or go to txabusehotline.org. If a child’s life is in danger, call 911. For more information on CASA of Southeast Texas, visit casasetx.org or call 409-832-2272.

The next new volunteer training session will be done virtually, and it begins Tuesday.

CASA of Southeast Texas is dedicated to ensuring the health and safety of the CASA program, those we serve and the public as a whole.