April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. This Spring we sat down with Janice Masokas, past CASA volunteer and current Prevention Coordinator at Guardian Angels, to talk about child sexual abuse and the impact survivor documentaries such as “Abducted in Plain Sight”, “Surviving R. Kelly”, and “Leaving Neverland” have. Read more to learn about child abuse prevention, statistics, and all the good work CASA has done this past quarter.
Tina and Dave became CASA volunteers and quickly saw a need for animal therapy. They discovered Tex and Wally, two miniature therapy horses in need of a home, and thus began Angel Hooves Healing Hearts, Inc. Their mission was to spread joy and bring smiles to children in foster homes through the CASA of Will County program. They’re able to touch these children’s hearts in a new way, creating happiness and fond childhood memories during these difficult times.
15-year old, David, emancipated from his abusive family early on and through six years he became independent. David is now 21 years old, working a stable job, has his own apartment, and talks to his sisters frequently. CASA never gave up on him and his siblings. In David’s world of changing caseworkers, changing teachers, and changing doctors, Emma, a CASA volunteer was the one constant face in his life.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and a key statistic is that 80 percent of abuse and neglect goes unreported, and one in five Illinois children is abused before the age of 18. Throughout this month, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities that promote prevention across the county.
CASA volunteers make a world of difference, diligently breaking the cycle for these children. They help the voices of child victims to be heard by Juvenile Court Judge and agency workers.
CASA is in need of volunteers. We are only able to do what we do because people like you generously give their time to become a much-needed advocate for a child in need. Studies show that children who have a CASA advocate are more successful in schools and in social interactions than those without an advocate. We hope you feel inclined to make a difference in the life of a child.
Dimetrius, a 10-year-old boy entered into the CASA program after his mother passed of cancer and his father began drinking more, engaging in unsafe and harmful behaviors of Dimetrius. On the day of his shelter care hearing, he was distraught at the sight of his father but CASA staff members were quick to calm him down and offer comfort and support. Dimetrius ended up living with his grandmother who was willing to take him in. CASA visited regularly and he did incredibly well. He had even joined a sports program through his local park district and was thriving in therapy services offered by CASA.
Since 1994, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Will County has been serving abused and neglected children. In the year 2000, the court began assigning CASA’s as the child’s GAL (or Guardian Ad Litem) in court cases, resulting in improved legal representation for these children. CASA volunteers or advocates are appointed by judges to act in the best interests of abused children and to ensure they do not get lost in the overburdened legal system or languish in foster care. Advocates stay with each child’s case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe permanent home with hope for a positive future.
Grace was just two years old when she was found in an abandoned apartment in Germany. Her adoptive mother refused to allow her to come home, shortly after she was hospitalized for having suicidal thoughts, and that’s when CASA stepped in. Grace suffered several tragedies throughout her time in adopted care and she found it hard to trust others. Her 25-year-old CASA advocate took a genuine interest in Grace and her afterschool involvements. Her advocate helped her navigate the confusing world of the Juvenile Court System and they developed a close bond. Grace graduated from high school with honors and she intends to pursue nursing at ISU. She is bright, ambitious and hopeful towards her future.
Crystal, a four-year-old girl had been living in a dirty, graffiti and urine-covered room. She was never potty-trained, had trouble speaking and became easily frustrated. Crystal was placed in a foster home and assigned a CASA advocate to act as her voice in court. Upon the first examination, people thought she was developmentally delayed. Over time, Crystal’s foster parent and advocate helped her immensely. This beautiful little girl began to sleep in her bed opposed to sleeping underneath it, she stopped throwing food at mealtime, and she started coming out of her shell more and more each day. She wasn’t developmentally challenged, she was a victim of neglect who was now thriving in her new home.