April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and CASA for Children 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 Brandy Eldridge, Executive Director of CASA for Children and the Texarkana Children’s Advocacy Center. “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 Eldridge. “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.”
Locally, CASA for Children served 375 children in the foster care system in an eight county area surrounding Texarkana in 2017, and the Texarkana Children’s Advocacy Center served 668 (more than 1,000 abused and neglected children served each year). This April, consider stepping up to make a difference for these children by becoming a CASA volunteer.
“We at CASA for Children 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 Eldridge. “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, in Texas report it to 1(800) 252-5400 or go to www.txabusehotline.org, or in Arkansas report it to 1(800)482-5964. If a child’s life is in danger, call 911. For more information on CASA, visit www.BecomeaCASA.org or www.casatexarkana.org. The next volunteer information sessions will be Thursday, April 12, 9:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. at 1201 Main Street, Texarkana, Texas.
CASA Events In Honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month:
Child Abuse Prevention Month Kick-Off – Proclamation Reading & CASA’s Tiny Casa Unveiling – Friday, April 6, 10:00 a.m. at Ledwell Machinery, 910 E. Loop Drive, Texarkana, Texas. Both Texas and Arkansas Mayors will be on hand to proclaim April as Child Abuse Prevention month in Texarkana. Also, CASA and Texarkana College Construction Technology’s program will debut this year’s tiny house.
CASA is extremely grateful for a strong community partnership with the Texarkana College and is excited to unveil this year’s tiny house at this Kick-Off event. “Texarkana College is honored to be a part of the efforts to raise funds and awareness for CASA and the Texarkana Children’s Advocacy Center,” said TC president James Henry Russell. “The students in our Construction Technology program not only learn valuable skills while working on the project but also learn the importance of serving the community and giving back your time and resources to those in need. This is our tenth year serving as a partner with CASA on this project and it has been a source of pride for both our students and faculty to know the proceeds from the raffle go to such an important cause.”
CASA’s Tiny CASA tours and chances to win the tiny house will be available immediately after the Proclamation Reading.
Wear Blue Day – Friday, April 6, On this day, Join CASA for Children and individuals and organizations all over the nation banding together to make a visible commitment to preventing child abuse and supporting strong families and healthy children. WEAR BLUE anywhere – to work, to school, a community event, the gym, and even at home. Invite your friends, family, students, co-workers or even your entire office to WEAR BLUE too! It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue shirt or blue suede shoes, the unified, community-wide act of wearing blue will help raise awareness that child abuse is preventable. (Why Blue? In the spring of 1989, a grandmother from Virginia began the blue ribbon campaign as a tribute to her grandson, a three-year old who died at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Since that time, concerned citizens all over the country have worn blue as a symbol of the need to prevent child abuse and neglect.)
Also, drive by the CASA for Children office and see our building decked-out in blue ribbons and blue lights for the month of April.
Saturday, April 7th – CASA’s Tiny Casa, Tours and chances to win the tiny house will be available at Twisted Fork, 5522 Summerhill Road (shopping center on the corner of Summerhill and Moores Lane) from 9:00am – 1:00pm. Members of Arkansas High School’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America group will open the tiny house for tours and offer $20 chances to win, as well as sharing information about becoming CASA Volunteers.
April 15th – CASA’s 13th Annual Songwriters on the Edge of Texas Concert – 6:00pm, Northridge Country Club – Featuring BOB SCHNEIDER, the Warren Hood Duo, and The Moss Brothers. Dinner by Outback Steakhouse. General admission tickets available for $75 at www.casatexarkana.org/songwriters.
CASA’s Tiny Casa will be given away during the Songwriters concert on April 15th. Only 1,500 tickets will be sold and can be purchased online for $20 each at www.casatexarkana.org/tinyhouse.
April 16th – CASA’s 13th Annual Songwriters Golf Tournament, Northridge Country Club – 11:30, Lunch & Registration, 8:00 Morning or 1:00 Afternoon Tee times available. Four-person scramble teams $600 or individual golf entry fee $150, and includes a Songwriters concert ticket and Lunch by Texas Roadhouse. For Golf Team registration or more information, contact Leigh Davis at 903-792-1030.