National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families, said De Vere Karlson, program director of Court Appointed Special Advocates.
The only way to stop child abuse is to report the incidents every time they are seen, Karlson added.
“People will call the Division of Child Family Services when they see abuse, but they’ll only call once because they don’t think there’s a need to call again since they already put in a call,” she said. “However, each time someone sees child abuse they need to report it. All of the calls are like a puzzle piece for DCFS and when they investigate, it will lead them to a bigger picture of what’s going on.”
Karlson said she cannot stress enough how important it is to call every time someone witnesses child abuse.
DCFS will be participating in three events this month to help bring awareness to child abuse prevention. On Friday, they will have a booth set up at the Navy’s open house event on base and on Saturday, DCFS will have a booth set up at Earth Day at Oats Park.
Karlson said the DCFS and CASA need people to participate in their volunteer programs. She said the DCFS is short on foster families, and CASA is short on volunteers.
“Right now, we have 13 amazing CASA volunteers, but we’re really hoping we can have 20 volunteers by next summer,” she said. “We’re trying to have volunteer CASA classes every six months so we’re hoping we get some more people.”
CASA is a volunteer based program that trains and supports volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children who go through the county’s system in the courtroom, home life and community. The CASAs are empowered by the court and offers the judge’s information needed to ensure each child’s rights and needs are being met while in foster care.
In order to become a foster parent the following is required: an in depth background check and financial stability is required to become a foster parent. She said foster parents need a stable residence with a separate room for the child, 27 hours of pre-service training offered by the agency, home safety requirements must be met and foster parents must get licensed. For information to become a foster parent contact 888-423-2659.