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

Juvenile Court Judge Mike Medlock and Van Buren Mayor Joe Hurst 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. “The one steady thing in some of the cases I deal with is the dependable and constant influence of the CASA volunteer on the foster child.”

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.”

Hurst read a proclamation naming April as CASA Volunteer Month to go along with 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.

Following the short ceremony on the courthouse lawn, CASA supporters helped “paint the county blue” with the organization’s annual blue ribbon campaign in which the supporters placed ribbons on the lampposts at the courthouse 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.