In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Building Healthy Families is issuing a call to action for residents of Wallowa County to stand against child abuse and take action to support children who have been abused or neglected.
At any given time, there are at least 5 children in foster care in Wallowa County. In addition to foster care, Building Healthy Families staff have also noticed an increase in the needs of all family support services that help reduce child abuse and neglect. Services are often needed to support families with risk factors including substance abuse, poverty, risky behaviors and lack of parenting skills.
Throughout April, we are calling on members of the community to help our program serve more of Wallowa County’s most vulnerable children. Opportunities include attending a Darkness to Light Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Training 9 a.m. to noon April 14 to learn how to prevent, recognize and react to child sexual abuse, volunteering with CASA or donate needed items to Building Healthy Families.
The needs of Wallowa County’s children are more complicated than ever before. Every child deserves the support of caring, consistent adults with the training to help them heal and thrive.
Without intervention, the odds are stacked against children in foster care. A child with a CASA volunteer, however, will leave the foster care system two-and-a-half months earlier, 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 than children without an advocate, and those children are more likely to achieve educational success.
CASA volunteers are a constant for the child in a time of chaos, according to Julie Rogers, Wallowa County CASA Program Manager. 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.
Building Healthy Families is a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA), a nationwide network of programs in nearly 1,000 communities. In Wallowa County, there are two volunteer advocates fighting for the best interests of five children, but three more children need the care and support of a CASA volunteer.
Maria Weer is executive director of Building Healthy Families.