August 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Column: New school year may mean increase in child abuse or neglect reports
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Rhodie Rawls
Rhodie Rawls

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 11:30 am
Rhodie Rawls Ellis County CASA
As summer vacation winds down, the end of August brings the coming of a new school year for many children.
Unfortunately, the start of a new academic year can also lead to more child abuse or neglect reports as teachers, staff and other parents notice signs of harm that children suffered over the summer.
Out of more than 160,000 completed reports of child abuse or neglect last year in Texas, schools were the second most common source. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services completed 33,146 investigations as a result of reports from school officials, falling just behind reports from medical personnel.
It’s not unusual for there to be a spike in suspected abuse or neglect reports when the school year resumes. In the summer, children interact with fewer adults outside of their families who would see and report signs of maltreatment. However, what is particularly alarming to me is the fact that since May, we have seen a dramatic increase, as 38 new child victims have entered into the foster care system in the past three months.
This increase translates to a greater need for CASA volunteers (Court Appointed Special Advocates) to represent these children.
CASA volunteers are everyday community members that are specially trained and appointed by judges to advocate for children in court. CASA volunteers get to know the child or sibling group and any relevant contacts in the children’s lives. They gather information about their physical, emotional and educational needs and strive to help the children move out of the temporary foster care system.
Imagine how frightening it is for these children to be taken out of their homes and placed sometimes far away from their families. CASA wants to ensure that they do not get stuck moving from placement to placement in the system, and are instead placed with safe, loving families as soon as possible.”
In Ellis County, there are currently 85 children in the foster care system. The court appoints CASA to every child, to advocate for their needs.
CASA cannot help every child without compassionate, dedicated volunteers. As the new school year approaches, please consider stepping up to be a voice for children in need by becoming a CASA volunteer.
For more information, call the CASA office at 972-937-1455, or visit, and The next training class will begin on Sept. 16. The training is free and provided at the local CASA office.
Rhodie Rawls serves as the executive director of CASA of Ellis County.

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