CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties Focuses on Supporting Families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month
With COVID-19 completely disrupting the world, CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties is raising awareness of the need for more dedicated members of the community to step up and become CASA volunteers, and help 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 Michelle Cobern, Executive Director of CASA of Titus, Camp and Morris Counties. “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.”
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 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 Titus, Camp and Morris Counties served 224 children in the foster care system in Titus, Camp and Morris Counties in 2019. Annually, April serves as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Because children have been out of school since mid-March, the number of child abuse cases has increased significantly as adults find themselves at home as well due to COVID-19.
“There is now an even greater need for CASA volunteers,” said Cobern. “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 Titus, Camp and Morris Counties 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,” said Cobern. “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.”
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. For more information on CASA, visit www.BecomeaCASA.org AND/OR https://casatcm.org/ AND 903-717-8940.