April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Each year, nearly 408,000 children in the United States experience abuse or neglect, ushering them into the dependency court and foster care systems. A child in foster care, on average, will move into multiple homes and attend multiple schools. All this chaos and inconsistency has long-term effects. Children and youth who have spent time in the child welfare system are more likely to face incarceration, homelessness, and unemployment. They are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to be trafficked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), at least one in seven children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year, and this is likely an underestimate. In 2019, 1,840 children died of abuse and neglect in the United States. Right here in Orange County, there are over 3,450 children and non-minor dependents who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment.

But here is the good news, statistics show that a consistent, caring adult can have a tremendous impact on changing a child’s story. Court Appointed Special Advocates of Orange County (CASA OC) supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home and the opportunity to thrive. 

CASA OC trains volunteers to advocate on behalf of children and youth in the courtroom. Even throughout the past two years of the Covid pandemic, as we’ve navigated our way through unprecedented challenges and constantly changing restrictions, CASA volunteers have remained committed to providing best-interest advocacy for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. 

As a consistent, caring adult in a child’s life, CASA OC volunteers help Orange County judges make the most informed decisions for the well-being of the child. These volunteers also help identify resources for the child and their families to help strengthen families and prevent crises before they occur. 

Right now, CASA OC is providing services to approximately 650 Orange County youth by matching them with a well-trained advocate. However there are an additional 177 youth who are waiting to be matched with a CASA volunteer. 

This is where you can help, your contribution of time or treasure helps us expand our services to more children at risk of additional abuse or neglect. We are looking for more volunteers and especially need the involvement of men and people of color to better serve our diverse youth. Please consider volunteering or donating today. www.casaoc.org/volunteer

change a child's story™