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Community volunteers continue to advocate for abused children during COVID-19 pandemic

Despite COVID-19, community volunteers have continued to answer the call to be the voice for abused and neglected children in our community. CASA of the River Region completed its first virtual training class, spread over five weeks, graduating 11 dedicated citizens to become CASA advocates.

“For the second year in a row, Kentucky has had the highest number of child abuse and neglect cases in the country,” said William Myers, CEO/President of CASA of the River Region. “In the last few months, many children have been isolated from teachers, counselors, and friends who are traditional reporters of abuse. With COVID-19, some children have been sheltering at home with their abuser. We expect a rise in cases as schools open to in-person classes.”

Kentucky’s child abuse rate is 22 out of every 1,000 children. Of the thousands of cases, CASA of the River Region’s service area receives 1 in 9 cases in the state. There are almost 10,000 children in foster care in the state, compared to 6,000 children in 2013. Social workers carry heavy caseloads with a statewide average of 30, but in Jefferson County can reach more than 80.

CASA volunteers are a friend, mentor and advocate to these vulnerable children. They handle only one case at a time. They build relationships with children, social workers, therapists, counselors, teachers and pediatricians. Because CASA volunteers focus on one child or sibling group, they understand children’s unique needs and help judges make better decisions for the short- and long-term well-being of their children. CASA is the only non-profit organization permitted in Family Court and whose volunteers are appointed by Family Court judges.

Most importantly, CASA volunteers are links to services these children need to overcome trauma. They ensure children receive the medical, emotional and academic support they need and deserve, which results in significantly improved outcomes for these maltreated children.

CASA’s new Training Manager, Ann Young, officially joined CASA’s staff last month. After serving as a volunteer for over two years, her dedication to vulnerable children prompted her to take on this new role during such an unprecedented time.

“I decided to become a CASA because I saw the good work done by other volunteers while I was a foster mom. I’m continually motivated to continue advocacy [for vulnerable children] as the need outweighs the supply of volunteers,” said Young.

For those thinking about volunteering, Young also notes, “Don’t hesitate. Take the leap into child advocacy and expect that you won’t regret how the journey will change and challenge you as a person.”

To learn more about volunteering as a child advocate, CASA holds two virtual information sessions on the first and third Wednesday of the month. For more information or to RSVP, visit www.casarr.org/casa101.

From CASA of the River Region

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