McKINNEY (Aug. 28, 2015) — As summer vacation winds down, the month of August brings the coming of a new school year for many children. Unfortunately, the start of a new academic year can also lead to more child abuse or neglect reports as teachers, staff and other parents notice signs of harm that children suffered over the summer.
Out of more than 160,000 completed reports of child abuse or neglect last year, schools were the second most common source. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services completed 33,146 investigations as a result of reports from school officials, falling just behind reports from medical personnel.
“It’s not unusual for there to be a spike in suspected abuse or neglect reports when the school year resumes,” said Susan Etheridge, Executive Director of Court Appointed Advocates (CASA) of Collin County. “In the summer, children interact with fewer adults outside of their families who would see and report signs of maltreatment.”
This increase in reports translates to more children entering the foster care system, and a greater need for CASA volunteers to represent these children.
CASA volunteers are everyday community members that are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for children in court. CASA volunteers get to know a child or sibling group and any relevant contacts in the children’s lives. They gather information about their physical, emotional and educational needs and strive to help the children move out of the temporary foster care system.
“Imagine how frightening it is for these children to be taken out of their homes and placed sometimes far away from their families,” said Etheridge. “CASA wants to ensure that they do not get stuck moving from placement to placement in the system, and are instead placed with safe, loving families.”
In Collin County, there are over 500 children in the foster care system. CASA of Collin County serve 100% of children entering the foster care system in Collin County at no cost to the court, community or the families we serve.
“CASA can’t help these children without compassionate, dedicated volunteers,” said Etheridge. “As the new school year approaches, consider stepping up to be a voice for children in need by becoming a CASA volunteer.”
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Collin County is a not-for-profit agency affiliated with Texas CASA and National CASA. CASA of Collin County, founded in 1991, is highly regarded in the legal community and one of the most respected agencies in the area, enjoying a cooperative working relationship with all of the social service agencies involved in each abuse case. CASA is appointed by the District Courts to advocate for 100% of the abused children in Collin County.
CASA’s mission is to train and support community volunteers to become child advocates. These passionate advocates are court-appointed as the Guardian Ad Litem for children who have been placed in protective custody of Child Protective Services because of abuse and neglect. The advocate is there to determine what is in the best interest of the child. An advocate commits to one case at a time, conducts his or her own independent investigation and affords the judge a unique and comprehensive picture of the child’s situation and provides an informed recommendation for permanent placement of this child.
CASA’s advocacy is provided at no cost to the court, community or family it serves. Only through the collective generosity of individuals, corporations, foundations, and organizations can CASA fulfill its mission of providing the highest standard of advocacy for Collin County’s most vulnerable children.
For more information, please visit casaofcollincounty.org.
About CASA of Collin County
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Collin County advocates for the best interest of children in foster care. Since 1994, we have served 100 percent of the abused and neglected children removed from their homes in Collin County. Within 24 hours of the removal, CASA is appointed by District Court Judges as the child’s guardian ad litem. As the child’s official voice in court, CASA works tirelessly to make sure the child (and parents) receives the services needed and the child’s case moves through the system as quickly as possible. The goal is for each child to be reunited with family if appropriate or to be placed in a safe and loving forever home if reunification is not possible. For more information, visit casaofcollincounty.org.