In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, CASA of the Coastal Bend is issuing a call to action for residents and businesses of Nueces and surrounding counties to stand against child abuse and take action to support children who have been abused or neglected.
On Thursday, CASA will host their annual Ringing of the Bells event to continue to inform the community about abused children.
The Ringing of the Bells ceremony is for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. All month long, blue pinwheels will be placed throughout the community as part of "Pinwheels for Prevention".
"There are 1,176 pinwheels that are displayed in our yard, which is very unfortunate because that represents the number of children who are in foster care in Aransas, San Patricio, and Nueces County," said CASA Marketing and Recruitment Manager Samantha Stemplinger.
Last year’s numbers show that there were 6,483 alleged victims of child abuse or neglect across the Coastal Bend. 1,545 of those cases were confirmed.
"The significance of this is not only to recognize the epidemic of child abuse and neglect in our community, but to also be aware of recognizing possible signs of child abuse and neglect that haven’t been brought to light where these children are still in these homes where they are being victims," said Stemplinger.
This is where CASA comes in to help the children.
"We have a great group of people who are stepping up and being voices for these children who are in crisis. However, we only serve a fourth of those children who are in the counties that we serve. Every day the clock is ticking for these children in care. They don’t know what is going on, it’s a very scary time for them. They need somebody who has the time, and can be thorough and make sure that they are not just finding them a home, but they are finding the right home for them," said Stemplinger.
The goal is to send the message that each child deserves to be raised in a safe, healthy and nurturing environment.
CASA of the Coastal Bend will host the Ringing of the Bells event Thursday, April 5th at 2602 Prescott from 5:30pm-7:30pm.
Throughout the halls of CASA will hang artwork created by foster youth with the help of their CASAs during an art workshop held in March at the Art Museum of South Texas which was made possible by Foster Angels of South Texas and Grande Communications.
Accompanying the artwork will include photos of the youth and their advocates along with audio of the children speaking about their artwork.
Guests will be able to bid on artwork through a silent auction; those with the highest bid can take the artwork home or donate to CASA where it will remain on display with acknowledgement of the donor.
The number of children from the Coastal Bend entering foster care per year are on the rise; 945 in 2015, 1,116 in 2016 and 1,176 in 2017 from Aransas, Nueces and San Patricio Counties.
CASA of the Coastal Bend has been training everyday volunteers in our community to advocate for the best interests of children in foster care and help find them their forever homes since 1992.
Last year there were 1,176 children from Aransas, Nueces and San Patricio counties in foster care – CASA had 180 advocates serve 331 children.