Even though April is officially the month to raise awareness about child abuse, we should increase awareness throughout the year to help address this ongoing issue.
In Denton County alone, our Child Protective Services (CPS) received 5,085 reports of child abuse. Any report is one too many. Fortunately, we are blessed with a number of agencies who work together to help our children in times of need.
Effective child abuse prevention programs are successful because of the collaboration among agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, communities, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies, the business community and volunteers.
Every child deserves to feel love, to be nurtured and cared for and to experience what it means to be secure – separated from verbal, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. No child should know neglect.
Through the Children’s Advocacy Center of North Texas and the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Denton County (CASA), resources are available to support children who have experienced abuse. Other local resources include the CPS Board of Directors, Community Partners of Denton County, Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home and Journey to Dream.
In 2020, 266 individuals across Denton County took the time to train with CASA and serve as volunteer advocates for children, providing them hope and guidance in difficult times. These individuals advocate on their behalf through the court system to ensure their rights are addressed in difficult family dynamics. (Find out more about CASA volunteers here: https://casadenton.org/volunteer/.)
In some cases, all that is needed is guidance and training for parents who need assistance in learning to care for their children properly – giving them the support and love they so desperately deserve and need. These are the situations where preserving the family structure is the best step to help a child in need.
Unfortunately, situations occur where children need other adults to step in and help them grow into adulthood equipped with the tools they need to be successful. Last year, our local CPS had an average of 574 children under their wing.
It is anticipated that 2021 numbers could likely be higher. Where you come in is through donations to these organizations, volunteering your time to be an advocate or considering becoming a foster family. Many of the children in need of foster families are placed outside of Denton County due to the lack of available homes.
While it takes a strong commitment and a willingness to undergo specialized training, becoming a foster parent is a service like no other. Each individual who accepts this role is serving the greater good and helping to mold tomorrow’s leaders.
On May 4, National Foster Care Day, consider becoming a foster parent to help our Denton County children in need learn what it is like being in a loving, caring home. You can find out more information at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services: https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/adoption_and_foster_care/get_started/information_meetings/03.asp.
Contact Commissioner Edmondson by email at [email protected] or phone her at 972-434-3960. You can also stop by her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.