April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each year nearly 424,000 children in the United States experience abuse or neglect, ushering them into the court and foster care systems. This is a month to highlight & make an extra effort to create awareness about the importance of strengthening families & preventing child abuse & neglect.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, families have been under more financial and emotional stress, which historically, can fuel a rise in cases of child abuse and neglect. At the same time, children are not in the public eye at schools or daycare, the doctor’s office or other locations where caring individuals may be able to spot signs of abuse and neglect.
In Missouri, over 55,000 incidents of abuse and neglect, impacting over 78,000 children were reported in 2020. A child in foster care may have faced physical, psychological and/or emotional trauma only to endure long periods of uncertainty in the system as they wait to go home, be adopted or simply wait to see what happens next. On average, a child in foster care will move into multiple homes and attend multiple schools. All this chaos and inconsistency has long-term effects. But having a caring, consistent adult-someone who listens, checks in and puts the child’s best interests before all others’-can make all the difference.
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Mid-Ozark C.A.S.A reminds everyone to keep eyes on children during these challenging times. Since the pandemic, Mid-Ozark C.A.S.A volunteers have remained committed to providing best-interest advocacy for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.
Mid-Ozark C.A.S.A, (Court Appointed Special Advocates) a local non-profit organization serving the 42 Judicial Circuit, (Crawford, Dent, Iron, Reynolds and Wayne Counties), is part of a nationwide network of community-based non-profit programs that recruit, screen, train and supervise volunteers to “Speak Up for a Child.” Mid-Ozark currently has children waiting for a C.A.S.A in all 5 counties. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a C.A.S.A volunteer contact Mid-Ozark C.A.S.A at 573-677-2022 or casacuba2@gmail.