Supporters of Court Appointed Special Advocates gathered on the Crawford County Courthouse lawn Wednesday in honor of April being “National Child Abuse Prevention Month.”

Juvenile Court Judge Mike Medlock praised the work of CASA of Crawford County volunteers, noting they are often the most dependable people for children in foster care.

“I have seen the faces of children light up when a CASA volunteer walks into a room,” Medlock said. “It never ceases to amaze me how the volunteers deal with these children in foster care.”

He said CASA and its volunteers serve a great purpose.

“These are people who are interested and involved in something they are doing for free,” Medlock said.

CASA promotes and supports local programs providing qualified volunteer advocates to help abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency-neglect proceedings reach safe, permanent homes.

CASA is a program where trained court appointed volunteers represent the best interest of an abused or neglected child for whom a placement is being determined by the juvenile court. A CASA volunteer acts as a fact finder of the child’s best interest, providing a judge with valuable information on the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future.

Van Buren City Planner Joe read a proclamation signed by Mayor Bob Freeman, naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Hurst noted child abuse affects all members of the community and finding solutions depends on the involvement of people throughout the community.

“Every child in Crawford County is entitled to be loved, cared for, nurtured and secure and to be free from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and physical abuse and neglect,” the proclamation reads.

It also notes the CASA program in Crawford County has established a distinguished record of public service through its work to enhance the quality of life for children.

Medlock said child abuse is something that is not going away.

“But, the more we can get involved, the chances are better we can help these abused children,” he said. “There are more than 4,500 kids in foster care in Arkansas and the lion’s share is in this part of the state.”

Following the short ceremony on the courthouse lawn, CASA supporters help “paint the county blue” with its annual blue ribbon campaign by placing ribbons on the courthouse lawn and along Main Street.

“We want to make a lasting impression to the abused and neglected children in our community,” CASA Director Celeste Lewis said. “We can do this by showing these precious children our community will not stand for abuse and neglect. This may help a child come forward about the abuse or neglect they face.”