The Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children of Denton County is reporting a significant increase in local cases of child abuse and neglect since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Debbie Jensen, executive director for CASA of Denton County, was worried this spring by dire predictions about how children and families would suffer during the public health crisis that would lead to more new abuse and neglect cases. Jensen’s worst fears have been realized as CASA has received the cases of 44 children who have been placed in child welfare system in October alone, a 30% increase over the number of children who came to CASA in October 2019.
“It’s clear to us that some children were suffering in silence, hidden behind closed doors as communities and cities were shut down,” Jensen said. “Today, as schools start to reopen and restrictions have been eased, abuse and neglect cases are being discovered at an alarmingly escalating rate.”
With the cases coming in at the current pace, Jensen is projecting that CASA of Denton County could potentially serve at least 735 children this year, which is 120 more children served than last year, according to a news release from the nonprofit.
“Our priority is providing trained community volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children who have been removed from their homes,” Jensen said. “We are dedicated to this mission but need the help of the community to make sure each one of these children has an advocate to ensure that their needs and best interests are protected while they spend up to 18 months or more in the care of relatives or a foster home.”
Cost to provide one year of court advocacy for one child in the child welfare system is approximately $2,000. With the challenge of a growing number of cases, CASA of Denton County is asking the community to help the agency fund 50 children in 50 days.
The first day of the challenge begins on Nov. 8, when the agency will host the Heart of Evening of Elegance, a virtual event presented by DATCU Credit Union. The virtual event will include a silent and live auction as well as highlight the Fund a Child campaign. CASA is encouraging gifts to be made during the virtual event but will continue the campaign through the end of the year, with the goal of funding all 50 children by Dec. 31.
Ticket information for the Heart of Evening of Elegance as well as information about the 50 x 50 Fund a Child challenge can be found at www.casadenton.org.