The efforts of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Crawford County were praised Wednesday at CASA supporters gathered on the courthouse lawn in Van Buren in honor of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Juvenile Court Judge Mike Medlock and Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman lauded the work of CASA volunteers, noting they are making a difference for children in foster care.

“I appreciate what you do,” Medlock told the volunteers. “We have turned the corner in a lot of ways with the improvements we have made helping the abused and neglected children in our community.”

Medlock said he was thankful that he and the CASA volunteers are on the same page on what is best for the children and their welfare. He also said he appreciates the volunteers gathering information which they are willing to share.

“I cannot make good decisions without good information,” he said. “And, you often let me know what is going on, whether it be good or bad.”

Medlock also praised the work of State Reps. Charlene Fite and Charlotte Douglas and State Sen. Terry Rice.

Freeman read a proclamation naming April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

“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.

“I am thankful for everything you do,” Freeman told the CASA volunteers. “I served on the first CASA board in Crawford County and it was a very eye-opening experience. So many in the community have no idea what CASA volunteers face.”

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

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.