During National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, CASA of Chautauqua challenges residents of Chautauqua County to stand against child abuse and take action to support children who have been abused or neglected.
At any given time, there are over 100 children in foster care in Chautauqua County. These children come into the child welfare system through no fault of their own. Trends have shown that more foster youth are aging out of the foster care system without finding safe and permanent homes. The opioid epidemic is changing the demographic of children coming into care and placing a burden across the United States including Chautauqua County. This issue is hurting addicts along with their children. The demands for advocacy for these children are exponentially increasing with the lack of addiction treatment centers, housing, jobs and foster care placements.
“The number of children in need of advocacy continues to grow and we aim to meet that need,” says Kathy Park, executive director. “Every child deserves the support of a caring, consistent, trained adult to help them find a safe, loving home where they can heal and thrive.”
That’s where CASA of Chautauqua County come in. We recruit, train and support volunteers who get to know children and the adults around them, and who advocate for those children’s needs in court and in the community. Our volunteers are simply everyday people who care deeply about children and are ready to make a child’s life better. They are part of a national network of over 93,000 volunteers who are doing this work.
Throughout the month of April, CASA of Chautauqua is calling on members of the community to help our program serve more of Chautauqua County’s most vulnerable children. The public is invited to join our Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign. Pinwheels for Prevention is a national awareness campaign created by Prevent Child Abuse America urging people to act to prevent childhood abuse and neglect by transforming awareness into action.
Look for our Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign at select Community Bank, Affinity One Federal Credit Union, Cattaraugus County Bank, Inner Lakes Federal Credit Union, Jamestown Area Community Federal Credit Union and Five Star Bank locations. Visit any participating business to purchase a pinwheel for $2 or a pinwheel card for $1.
Children and families are encouraged to enter the Children’s Creative Contest by submitting a creative original piece of artwork to be displayed on CASA social media platforms, website and other outreach initiatives. Submitting a creative and original piece is easy and must answer one of the following: What does happy look like? What does hope look like? What does Spring look like? What does your favorite animal look like? Contest details can be found at www.chautauquacasa.com. Deadline is May 1 and prizes will be awarded to 1st and 2nd place.
Downloadable pinwheel coloring pages are available on the CASA website for $1. This is a fun way to engage children while raising awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month. Kids can color the pinwheel coloring page and display their artwork in a window or doorway for all to enjoy. Post a picture of the pinwheel on Facebook with a personal pledge to help end child abuse. Participants are encouraged to include #ChautCASAP4P and tag CASA of Chautauqua.
Without intervention, the odds are stacked against children in foster care. A child with a CASA volunteer spends 20 percent less time in foster care, on average, compared to a child without a CASA volunteer. Studies show children with a CASA volunteer receive more services that are critical to their well-being and are four times more likely to find a permanent home.
“CASA volunteers are a constant for the child in a time of chaos,” said Park. “A child may have multiple social workers, attorneys, therapists and foster placements throughout the life of the case but only one CASA volunteer, which can make all the difference for the child’s future.”
All monies raised from CASA’s Pinwheels for Prevention Campaign are used to fulfill CASA’s mission of supporting volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children in Chautauqua County. If you would like to support the mission of CASA, a tax-deductible donation can me made online at www.ChautauquaCASA.com or by sending a check to CASA of Chautauqua Co., Inc. at 2 Academy Street, Suite 5, Mayville, NY 14757.
About CASA of Chautauqua
The mission of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Chautauqua County is to provide an independent voice in court, advocating for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the pursuit of finding safe and permanent homes. CASA of Chautauqua County, Inc. relies on highly trained volunteers who are appointed by a Chautauqua County Family Court Judge to advocate for children in court. These volunteers work with relevant agencies and parties in order to advocate for the best interest of the child. With the information provided by the CASA volunteer, Family Court Judges are better able to make informed decisions as to what is best for the child. CASA of Chautauqua County is a United Way Community Partner.