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April declared Child Abuse Prevention Month

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The Bandera County Commissioners’ Court approved a resolution proclaiming April 2021 as Child Abuse Prevention Month during a meeting on March 30.

Judge Richard Evans signed the proclamation for Bandera County, urging all citizens to recognize the month of April by dedicating themselves to the task of improving the quality of life for all children and families.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is an annual observance in the United States dedicated to raising awareness and preventing child abuse. Originally, April was designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month for the United States back in 1983.

In 2016, President Obama continued the tradition and issued a Presidential proclamation: ”During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.”

In the federal fiscal year 2020, the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services (DFPS) confirmed 68,461 victims of child abuse or neglect.

DFPS’ latest report on child maltreatment fatalities and near fatalities indicates 251 children in Texas died in fiscal year 2020 due to abuse and neglect. That figure includes 28 children who died after being left unattended in hot vehicles.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, DFPS is encouraging communities to increase awareness of resources available to help prevent child abuse in Texas. Resources are available at getparentingtips.com.

The signed Bandera County proclamation elaborated that children are our most valuable resources and they will shape the future of Texas. Child abuse can have long-term psychological, emotional, and physical effects that can have lifelong consequences for victims. Protective factors are conditions that reduce or eliminate risk and promote the social, emotional and developmental well-being of children.

Effective child abuse prevention activities succeed because of the meaningful connections and partnerships created between child welfare, education, health, community, businesses, and law enforcement. Communities must make every effort to promote programs and activities that benefit children and their families. The Bandera community must work together to increase awareness about child abuse and contribute to promote the social and emotional well-being of children.

Bandera County Emergency Management Coordinator Carey Reed explained “the child welfare board does all they can to increase foster homes and resources for those children affected.”

She elaborated that children who are removed from abusive homes need advocates in their communities.

“There is always room for more advocates when it comes to the children,” she said.

Only half of kids in foster care have a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer. These individuals assist children in need by gathering information from everyone involved in a child’s daily life, including members of the child’s family, foster parents, teachers, lawyers, social workers and other relevant persons.

Those interested in becoming a CASA may do so texascasa.org.