Juvenile Court Judge Mike Medock praised the work of volunteers for Court Appointed Special Advocates during a ceremony Monday on the Crawford County Courthouse lawn.

Supporters of CASA of Crawford County gathered in honor of April being "National Child Abuse Prevention Month."

"CASA and its volunteers serve a great purpose," Medlock said. "These are people who are interested and involved in something they are doing for free."

CASA Association 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.

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."

Medlock said he has no explanation for the large number in this part of the state.

"But, these kids needed to be there and it would be great if all had a place to go," he said.

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."