April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

A CASA volunteer and a child in court. Photo provided.A CASA volunteer and a child in court. Photo provided.

By: Ashley Soldaat—

 Join Delaware County CASA’s commitment to helping victims of child abuse and neglect heal, and making sure all children feel safe and loved.

Anytime a child is abused or neglected, it’s a tragedy – one that all too often scars victims for a lifetime. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are sobering:

  • Child Protective Services agencies across the United States received some 3.6 million referrals of abuse or neglect involving 6.6 million children in 2014.
  • An estimated 1,580 children died from child abuse or neglect in 2014, nearly three-quarters of them younger than age 3.
  • In Delaware County, there was an estimated 488 victims of abuse and neglect in 2015, resulting in a rate of 22.1 victims per 1,000 children. When compared to the national average, Delaware County is almost two and a half times higher than the national average of 9.4.
  • In the last few years, there has been a 40 percent increase in child abuse cases filed with the Delaware County Juvenile Court.

Studies have shown that children who have suffered abuse or neglect are more likely to struggle in school, have run-ins with law enforcement, experience homelessness or abuse drugs or alcohol. Research also shows that abused children are more apt to grow up to abuse their own kids.

At Delaware County CASA we help abused and neglected children heal so they can live happier, safer lives. Our CASA volunteers – court-appointed special advocates – make sure kids don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in unsupportive foster homes. CASA volunteers stay with children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

Our program in Delaware County needs at least 60 new volunteers if we want to even come close to serving the over 150 children on our waitlist.

As you may know, our county is well known for its statistics in the number of annual Meth lab seizures.  In addition to the meth epidemic, we are also seeing a substantial rise in heroin use.  These social issues, among others, have created a major burden on our social services community. Not only is Delaware County seeing a rise in the number of child abuse and neglect cases but we are also struggling with being able to safely reunify children with their parents.

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we invite our community to learn more about the work we do and consider becoming a CASA volunteer. Please give us a call or come visit us at the CASA office. Our next training session begins on March 24, 2016 and continues through the end of April.

Listen to the WLBC Commercial about becoming a Delaware County CASA volunteer below.


Do your part to make growing up a positive experience for all Delaware County children. Not everyone can be a CASA volunteer, but everyone can be an advocate by taking steps to make our community safer for our children:

  • Be mindful of the signs of abuse and neglect in children, such as a lack of adult supervision, extreme passivity or aggression or poor hygiene.
  • Be aware of warning signs in parents, such as showing indifference or rarely touching or looking at their child, constant verbal criticism, demands for perfection, blaming the child for family problems or other irrational behaviors.
  • If you think a child is in immediate danger, don’t hesitate. Call 911.
  • If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, report your suspicions confidentially to our state’s toll-free child abuse hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

Working together, we can end abuse and neglect so that every child has a chance to thrive. To find out more about Delaware County CASA, visit us online at www.delawarecountycasa.org.

If you’d like to be a Delaware County CASA volunteer or would like more information,  call Karen Holmes at (765)747-7875.


Ashley Soldaat is Director of the Delaware County CASA Program