More than 600 people gathered the morning of May 10 to learn about the challenges Hamilton County faces in reaching more abused and neglected children — and how ProKids is making a difference in meeting those challenges. With a record-setting 224 volunteers speaking up for 757 children in 2016, ProKids needs the community’s support to increase its impact.
The annual Friends of Children Breakfast is a way for ProKids to mobilize more of Greater Cincinnati to stand up for children.
Beginning with a swearing in of the newest Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA Volunteers, the annual event celebrates the advocacy of community members on behalf of children but also recognizes the challenges.
Executive Director Tracy Cook noted that a growing number of our community’s children are traumatized by intertwined family dysfunction like abuse, neglect, mental health, substance abuse and poverty. “ProKids has doubled the children we serve,” Tracy said. “But another brutal truth we must face is that children are pouring into the system. Just in the past two years, there has been a 36% increase in children entering the system due to abuse and neglect. There is no sign of this letting up.”
ProKids supporter Manuel Chavez III said ProKids, with committed volunteers and staff members who advocate for individual children, demonstrate a proven solution. “What if we can expand this paradigm to reach more families? How many more children can see a brighter future?,” he asked.
To illustrate this solution, a volunteer presented a story about his recent case involving six children in a family disrupted by drug abuse and neglect. Court Appointed Special Advocate Donald Swain said saving these children’s childhood was not always a sure thing. “A storybook ending,” he said. “That’s what I wanted. ProKids and our child protection partners helped make it happen.”
Three of the children offered their perspectives on how their lives have changed since they were adopted by their paternal grandparents. “We lived in what looked like a normal house in a normal neighborhood,” one of the girls said. “But inside, we were torn apart. And now, we are OK.”
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You can see the coverage in Movers & Makers here.