Published in the Iola Register on Mar. 29, 2013.

Letter to the Editor 3-29-13

Dear Editor,
 April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Blue pinwheels are the new symbol for child abuse and prevention and you can show your support of increasing awareness of this serious problem by displaying blue pinwheels during april. Area banks have agreed to have pinwheels for purchase at a nominal amount and you will see pinwheels “planted” on the courthouse lawn in honor of children affected by abuse and/or neglect in Cloud County.
 The rights of our most vulnerable children are being lost in the shuffle of a strained system. In our society the basic needs and rights of children are entrusted to their families, but when the family–for whatever reason–is unable to meet those obligations, our most vulnerable children are placed in the foster care and child welfare system.
In 1077, a family court judge created an innovative new program called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children. The CASA concept has been so effective that it now has more than 70,000 volunteers serving almost 1,000 programs in almost every court system in the United States. In Kansas, 25 of 31 judicial districts have a CASA program. NCK CASA, established in 1994, is a nonprofit organization which serves children in Cloud, Jewell, Mitchell and Lincoln counties. The program trains and supports volunteers to speak out and act as advocates for the best interest of abused and neglected children; more than 330 in the past 14 years. CASA volunteers are trained to work within the child welfare and family court systems and are appointed by judges to individual cases. With the help of a CASA volunteer, a child is half as likely to languish in the foster care system and that much more likely to find a safe and permanent home. The concept of CASA volunteers is an outstanding reflection of the kind of change that’s possible when the public, private and nonprofit sectors join forces.
 In 2012, there were 34 child abuse cases filed in cloud County, but due to a lack of volunteers, CASAs were assigned to only three of those children. For more information on how you can be a voice for an abused or neglected child, contact NCK CASA at 785.243.8200 or toll free at 877.576.CASA. Don’t forget to show your support by displaying blue pinwheels during April. Let everyone know that in this community we stand together to fight child abuse and neglect.
Carol S. Miller
Executive Director, NCK CASA, Inc.