In 2013, Tarrant County reported 5,689 confirmed cases of child abuse, making our home county the No. 3 spot in the state (based on population) for child abuse.
Horrifying, right? While we are appalled and broken-hearted, maybe even remembering our own days of abuse, the pain and loss felt by each child this 5,689 number represents is real–and part of our community.
However, I am so thankful Tarrant County citizens are not standing by with blinded eyes. The folks at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) of Tarrant County, which is part of a national and state-wide organization, are making an immeasurable difference in these little ones’ lives. Last year, CASA served 800 children in the foster care system.
Teddi Wiggins, the outreach recruitment specialist at CASA, explained CASA’s work as this:
In the overburdened child welfare and foster care system, the CASA Advocate provides stability for a foster child. He or she is often that one, constant person who will always be there for a foster child until the case is officially closed. Many of these children will change foster homes and social workers multiple times; however, they will always have their ONE CASA!
CASA provides a voice for the child’s best interests and rights during all stages of the child abuse case. From home visits to phone calls to court dates and written reports, each CASA Advocate works to ensure no child “falls through the cracks.” Teddi noted, “Because the CASA volunteer traditionally only works one case at a time, he or she has the time to gather the intimate details of the child’s life.”
Want to become a hero? Want to encourage a child who’s endured and seen too much? Here’s how:
- Currently, CASA of Tarrant County has 371 foster kiddos waiting for a volunteer Advocate. CASA needs more volunteers. Volunteers are a critical, crucial element to reducing the child abuse epidemic. Visit speakupforachild.org to learn more. Click on the “volunteer” link. You can also contact Teddi Wiggins at 817-877-5891.
- On April 24 at the Worthington Hotel in Fort Worth, CASA and its supporters will gather for the annual Judge Scott Moore Awards Dinner. The author of Three Little Words, Ashley Rhodes-Courter, is the keynote speaker of the event, sharing about her 9 years in the Florida foster care system (between the ages of 3 and 12) and went on to turn her experiences and pain into a passion for work as a child advocate. Her story is being made into a major motion picture. But most important, awareness and funds will be raised to support the work of CASA.
- The Donate section of CASA’s website lists numerous ways to give financially to the non-profit agency, even as simply as linking your grocery store’s loyalty card to CASA. In turn, the grocery chain will make a donation to CASA each time a qualifying purchase is made.
- Eat a cookie. Throughout April, McKinely’s Bakery is serving delicious ribbon-shaped sugar cookies coated in yummy blue icing to show support for CASA during Child Abuse Awareness Month. All proceeds are given to CASA. FWMB team enjoyed them at our meeting this month.
What will you do to ease the suffering of so many Tarrant County children?