CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH
Child Abuse Awareness Month!
CASA-VFC AND BENTON COUNTY:
COMING TOGETHER TO SUPPORT FAMILIES AND PREVENT CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT
Across our community, there are parents and caregivers who may be struggling with balancing the stress of daily life alongside caring for a child. Whether it is working multiple jobs trying to put food on the table, grappling with a substance use disorder, wondering where the next month’s rent will be coming from or figuring out how to deal with a major financial setback, balancing these pressures with parenting and running a household can at times be very difficult. And with the devastating effects of COVID-19, more families than ever are struggling – with health anxiety, job loss, social distancing, children out of school and other consequences.
Sadly, stress in its many forms can be a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect. At CASA – Voices for Children, we’ve seen this time and time again with the children and families we serve who are involved in the foster care system. Stress is a natural byproduct of parenthood, but when those stresses are combined with anxieties over things like finances, health, employment or relationships, it can become too much for one person to handle.
While there is no excuse for abuse or neglect, we must understand what underlying issues can cause it to occur if we, as a community, wish to prevent it and help families safely stay together. So maybe you’re wondering,"What can I do to help?" There are many efforts you can undertake to support families directly, and while they may seem small, they can have a major effect:
Every Child Oregon and DHS have teamed up to launch the “My NeighbOR” initiative, designed to match community goods and services with foster families and youth in foster care who need them. To learn more, check out this article from Oregon's KGW news. If you are an Oregon foster family or a youth in foster care, you can share your need at everychildoregon.org/need. If you want to help meet a need for foster families, please visit everychildoregon.org/myneighbor.
If you know a family who is struggling, you can offer to help connect them to local community resources for assistance.
Your time and conversation can be incredibly valuable to a new or stressed parent – especially now as we’re limiting our contact with others. You don’t need to be physically near someone in order to be a listening ear and friend! This simple act can help a caregiver reduce their own stress by being able to talk out their feelings. Furthermore, if you have experience with raising a child, you can offer to share your advice and act as a resource for them. Let them know they can turn to you as someone with shared experience when they have moments of uncertainty or anxiety. Even if you don’t personally have experience with raising a child, you can still listen. You can also connect them with the National Parent Helpline, or introduce them to someone you know who may be able to give them advice.
Tell 3 people you know about our organization! With over 11,000 children and youth in foster care throughout our state, we are in dire need of more child advocates. Please direct friends, family members, and co-workers here to learn more about how they can get involved.
Consider stepping up to make a difference by becoming a CASA! By becoming a CASA volunteer, you can take your efforts beyond just awareness, and do your part to help support children and families right here in our community. CASAs, or Court Appointed Special Advocates, are everyday people from all walks of life who are recruited and specially trained to advocate for children in foster care and provide a consistent, reliable adult presence for them during a difficult time in their life. We are continuing to actively recruit new CASA volunteers – if you are interested in serving as a CASA, please read here to learn more! CASA pre-service training classes will resume once the current restrictions on public activities are relaxed, and we are also exploring the possibility of developing remote training opportunities as well.
As friends and neighbors, we can work to build support systems around families, making sure they know they are not in this alone and their community is behind them. CASA-VFC asks the people of Benton County to show your support for vulnerable families in our area. Show them that we have a community that is on their side, and that is willing and ready to support them in any way they need.
This is a difficult time, but it doesn’t have to be lonely and without purpose. This April, please join us in spreading awareness and providing advocacy to ensure that all of our children are safe, supported, and loved.
CASA – Voices for Children
April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month.
If you suspect a child is being abused, report to a DHS Child Welfare screener by contacting 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).
If a child’s life is in danger, call 911.