Living in the shadows

Bill Christopher
Posted

Right here in our community, there are abused and neglected children who live in the shadows of our lives. She may be the little girl in your son’s or grandson’s kindergarten class, who had to move homes and changed schools three or four times in the last year. He may be the lonely child in the park who doesn’t join the game. It could be the 8-year-old curly haired girl who hides the bruises or cigarette burns on her back and legs.

A growing problem

The child welfare and juvenile justice systems are full of compassionate lawyers, judges, social workers and foster families who work on behalf of these children. However, according to recent statistics, more than 748,000 children are annually placed in foster care in the USA. Over 1,300 abused and neglected children are involved in these systems right here in Adams and Broomfield counties, through no fault of their own. The court and professionals do the best they can, but due to the volume of cases and limited resources too many children are still subjected to lengthy stays and/or successive foster homes. Each child deserves to have a caring individual who is focused on their sole best interests. Each child deserves a trained volunteer Court Appointed Child Advocate (CASA).

Making a difference

There is no doubt about the transformative impact which a CASA volunteer can have on a child. However, today only 35 percent of the children in need have access to a CASA. Nearly 1,000 children here in our 2-county area do not have that dedicated, caring advocate. CASA of Adams and Broomfield Counties has a goal to serve every child, but that means the organization needs to double its current 280 CASA volunteers. They especially need volunteers of color, as African American and Latino children make up a large portion in the child welfare and juvenile court system. Also, funding is necessary as CASA does not charge for its service and receives only a small portion of its revenue from state and local government funds.

Every child has a right

Every child has a right to thrive. Every child has a right to be treated with dignity and to live in a stable, safe and loving home. Every child deserves a fighting chance! Once grown, these former foster kids could be future doctors, teachers, police officers or leaders. Coming through a period of vulnerability and fear, the child can then understand his potential and his rights. She will believe in herself. That is our opportunity and our challenge to help make a difference.

How each can help

CASA is launching a month long Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Campaign for April. The campaign, titled “The Blue Light Project” encourages community members to stand up in support of their mission by placing blue lights in their front porches or on their trees. As part of the campaign, CASA is encouraging each of us to make a minimum $20 donation to their organization. Each donor will receive a Blue Light Dining and Entertainment Card which contains great “buy one-get one free” offers from area participating restaurants and entertainment venues. All proceeds will go to help CASA recruit, train and supervise more caring Volunteer CASA Advocates for children in need.  I encourage you to support CASA in carrying out their mission. Please visit for more information or call 303-654-3378. The abused/neglected children of our communities thank you.