Letter to the editor: Children need advocates now more than ever

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To the editor:

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, families have been under more financial and emotional stress, which can fuel a rise in cases of child abuse and neglect. At the same time, children are not in the public eye at schools or day care, the doctor’s office or other locations where caring individuals may be able to spot signs of abuse and neglect.

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Hancock County Court Appointed Special Advocate Program reminds everyone to keep eyes on children during these challenging times.

Since the pandemic, Hancock County CASA volunteers have remained committed to providing best-interest advocacy for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

In 2020, over 204 children in Hancock County were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, ushering them into the dependency of court and foster care systems. A child in foster care may have faced physical, psychological and/or emotional trauma only to endure long periods of uncertainty in the system as they wait to go home, be adopted or simply wait to see what happens next. On average, a child in foster care will move into multiple homes and attend multiple schools. All this chaos and inconsistency has long-term effects. But having a caring, consistent adult — a CASA, someone who listens, checks in and puts the child’s best interests before all others’ — can make all the difference.

Please consider becoming a CASA in Hancock County. Currently, there is a waiting list for children needing a CASA. These children have no voice as they pass through the court system. They have no one to stand up for them. Please consider the power of Changing a Child’s Story. Please consider becoming a CASA.

Marciann McClarnon Miller

Greenfield

Marciann McClarnon Miller is director of Hancock County CASA.