Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed each April since its first presidential proclamation in 1983. Since that time, individuals and organizations have joined forces during the month of April to raise the public’s awareness of child abuse and its prevention.
In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we have Jennifer Mayer, of CASA, as our guest contributor….
CASA: Speaking up for abused and neglected children
By Jennifer Mayer
Melissa and her siblings were all exposed to prenatal drug and alcohol use before birth, and each of them suffered the negative medical effects. Their mother used her government assistance money for drugs and alcohol. She abused Melissa every day, “sometimes so severely that I thought my last breath was imminent,” said Melissa.
When Melissa was 12, she finally confessed the abuse to her dance team coach, and she and her siblings entered foster care. In their five years in the system, they lived in a constant state of fear. “The only one we could turn to for answers was our CASA volunteer,” said Melissa. “She tried to comfort us and guide us through the process. She was a constant in our lives and our voice in the courtroom.”
“The support of my loved ones and my CASA volunteer enabled me to see my past as a source of strength. It allowed me to leave a life of suffering behind.”
– Melissa, former foster youth
Like Melissa, children in our own community have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. All children deserve a forever family, yet too often abused children remain adrift in a foster care system too overworked and underfunded to pay close attention to each child whose life is in its hands.
CASA provides powerful voices for these children.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Capital Area CASA Association serves East Baton Rouge Parish and trains volunteers to advocate for these children. CASA volunteers represent the best interests of abused children during juvenile court and child protection proceedings. The CASA volunteer serves as an independent voice to speak solely for the child.
CASA volunteers get to know the child and talk with everyone involved in the child’s life to gather facts about the child’s history and current situation. Using this information, the volunteer submits recommendations in a report to the juvenile court judge.
Since most CASA recommendations are accepted by the court, children with CASA volunteers are more likely to find permanent homes and spend less time in foster care. CASA volunteers also ensure that children’s needs are being met while in state custody.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to remember that we can all play a part in helping these children. Children are continuously entering foster care, so CASA always needs volunteers. No special background is required – CASA provides training and support every step of the way. Volunteers typically spend 10-15 hours per month on their advocacy work. The first step to becoming a volunteer is to attend a 45-minute orientation session.
Upcoming CASA Orientation Dates
All sessions take place at the CASA office, 848 Louisiana Ave.
Wednesday, April 23 @ 12:00 p.m.
Monday, April 28 @ 12:00 p.m.
Interact with us!
Writer bio: Jennifer Mayer joined the Capital Area CASA staff in June 2013 as recruitment coordinator. She is a Baton Rouge native and holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Georgia. She oversees all marketing/PR functions at CASA in order to recruit enough volunteers for CASA to serve every child who needs a voice. To contact Jennifer, call (225) 379-8598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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