Link to publication in the Cincinnati Enquirer on Jan. 29, 2018
The story out of California is heart-breaking: 13 siblings who were allegedly chained and starved by their parents. But also heart-breaking is the news that some neighbors thought something was wrong, like when they saw the siblings eating food from trash cans, but did not know what to do to help.
In my work at ProKids over 25 years, I have seen how any community member – a neighbor, colleague, family – can step up and alert authorities (like 513-241-KIDS in Hamilton County) when they have a serious concern. And I’ve also seen where the community can step up and make a difference for abused and neglected children by being a ProKids CASA Volunteer.
Court Appointed Special Advocates, known as CASA Volunteers, are amazing, ordinary people who bring the gifts of time, common sense, and caring. They come from all walks of life and are united in their deep belief in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home for every child.
These volunteers visit our children; call their social workers, therapists, and teachers; and work with all of these individuals to create plans to get each child to their forever family.
We are facing some brutal truths in our community. Abuse and neglect, mental health, substance abuse, and poverty are completely intertwined, leaving kids so traumatized it affects every part of their lives.
Another brutal truth we must face is that children are pouring into the system. In just the last two years, there has been a 36% increase in the children entering the child protection system due to abuse and neglect. Often, they become foster children.
There is no sign of this trend letting up.
It is painful and heartbreaking to know children suffer. But we are not helpless. Growing up, my dad often said, “you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” There are no sidelines to watch from. We have the power to save our children.
ProKids exists because we share a vision of a safe, permanent, and nurturing home for every child. We work to achieve this vision by mobilizing our community to break the vicious cycle of abuse and neglect. We recruit, train, and support community volunteers to speak up for them and help guide them to safe environments where they can thrive. Since 1981, ProKids has served thousands of children.
At ProKids, we also work to create partnerships within the child protection system to maximize outcomes for our children.
We want everyone to pull together for our kids because it is not an agency or a system that cares for our children: it is a committed community.
Since we began asking our community to join us in our work, our volunteers and supporters have shown us what is possible. We have more than doubled the children we serve, advocating last year for 887 children thanks to 267 CASA Volunteers.
These volunteers joined ProKids to look out for the best interest of children. It’s critical we have more volunteers who can not only be moved by the story of broken children, but also by the possibilities they have to heal and grow up differently.
By working together, we have stopped abuse and neglect for 99% of the children we served in the past year – a rate we’ve maintained for over two decades.
As the neighbors in California speak of their disbelief and shake their heads, wishing they could have done something, you can do something. Let someone know when you have a serious concern (and call 513-241-KIDS in Hamilton County).
And become a CASA Volunteer so that when a traumatized child in our own community needs a voice, you can be the person who stood up and made a difference.
The first step is to come to a one-hour introductory session called a Snapshot. They are offered at different times to suit your schedule. Make your reservation here.