Letter to the Editor 3-28-14

Dear Editor,
 April is known for many things; the start of spring, Easter and now as a month to benefit abused children. April was named Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983 and nationwide, child advocate programs like NCK CASA are endeavoring to raise awareness.  April is a time to recognize that we, as adults, are responsible for speaking up for all children and promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and families in our community. The Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign began in April 2008. "Pinwheel gardens" are  planted in communities across the nation as visual reminders that all adults have a role to play in ensuring happy and healthy childhoods. In an effort to raise awareness of a problem that often goes unrecognized in our communities, NCK CASA volunteers, board members and staff have been "planting" pinwheels in the county courthouse lawns. You may see pinwheels in the area restaurants and you can show your support of ending child abuse by purchasing pinwheels from area banks and planting them in your own yard.
 NCK CASA was established in Cloud County in 1994 and has been assigned to children in all six counties of the 12th Judicial District: Cloud, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Republic and Washington counties. In the past 19 years, 102 CASA volunteers have been trained along with five staff members; more than 300 children have been assigned to CASA volunteers.
 CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Trained CASA volunteers are appointed by a judge to abused and neglected children under the Court's jurisdiction. CASA's role is to be the "eyes and ears" of the Court and to be fact finders as they learn what is really happening in the life of the child and the life of the family. They are advocates in every sense of the word on a day-to-day basis. They are looking out for what is best for the child, and in a more formalized way when there is a court hearing, CASAs will write a report, which is submitted to the judge and all parties in the case." CASAs are given a signed order from the judge, which allows them authority to speak to teachers, doctors, therapists, counselors, employers, neighbors and anyone else who can shed light into the life of the child and the family. In most cases, it is the parents who need help because they aren't meeting the child's needs. While CASAs are looking out for what is best for the child, they may also find out what the parents need to become good, effective parents.
 A recent study by Texas Appleseed, “Improving the Lives of Children in Long-term Foster Care,” reports that “If a child has a CASA, the CASA usually is the only person who truly knows the child and knows how the child is really doing.”  National CASA reports that children with CASA volunteers are more likely to receive therapy, health care and education, more likely to do better in school, less likely to be bounced from one place to another, less likely to get stuck in long-term foster care and significantly more likely to reach safe, permanent homes. A CASA volunteer is often the child's only link to maintaining family connections and can be instrumental in identifying family members as temporary or permanent placement options.  Most importantly, children themselves report that they know and can rely on their CASA volunteers.
If you would like to have a part in speaking up for abused and neglected children, contact Carol Miller at nckcasa@cloudcountyks.org or call 785.243.8200. There's a child waiting for you to be their advocate.
                                             Don Bates
                                    Board Member, NCK CASA


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