CASA balloon release event raises awareness of child abuse

CASA balloon release event raises awareness of child abuse

(ROCKWALL, TX – April 18, 2016) Lone Star CASA board members and volunteers joined Rockwall residents in recognizing Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month in Rockwall County with a balloon release on the steps of the historic courthouse on Thursday, April 14. The event featured a special performance by the Amy Parks-Heath Elementary School Lighthouse Singers and a proclamation from County Judge David Sweet, as CASA volunteers were also honored for their service to abused and neglected children throughout Rockwall and Kaufman counties.

The Rockwall County Commissioners Court proclaimed the month of April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness month in Rockwall County, urging all citizens to join the national effort to raise awareness and prevent child abuse and neglect.

“This is one of those unusual moments where we stop and pause and remember all of the children in this unfortunate position,” Sweet said. “It’s one of those things where we talk about an organization and so many of its great people we wish we didn’t have a need for in the county. I want to thank all with Lone Star CASA who stand for the children here in our community, and a big thank you to the board of directors for providing the stability and direction for this organization.”

District Judge Brett Hall acknowledged the exceptional work of CASA volunteers and staff in helping to alleviate the problem Child Protective Services and like organizations face today: maintaining enough staff to accommodate the amount of children facing abuse and neglect.

“This is just one of the ways in which CASA picks up the slack,” Hall said. “These volunteers make absolutely sure that if a child has a problem or if they see something going on, the court’s going to know about it. They’re the voice for these children when nobody else is.”

CASA volunteer Phyllis Hulse spoke of the positive impact the organization has had on children in the community, and how becoming a CASA opened her eyes to the horrors of child abuse and neglect.

“When you work as a CASA, you quickly realize that there are bigger problems in the world,” Hulse said. “And it makes such a difference to these children who have not been treated so kindly. With every child that you help and get to know, your heart grows a little bigger. There are more children to come, and I know my heart is just going to keep getting bigger and bigger.”

CASA is a national volunteer movement that began in the late 1970s, when Judge David Soukup in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. His solution was to ask community volunteers to act as a “voice in court” for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocates™ (CASA) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children’s best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation.

The first CASA program established in Texas was Dallas CASA in 1980. During that decade, 14 CASA programs were started in Texas. In 1989, Texas CASA was formed as a result of a merger between the Texas Task Force on Permanency Planning and the Texas CASA network that was made up of the existing CASA programs in the state.

For more information about how to become a Lone Star CASA and get involved in the prevention of child abuse and neglect, visit

Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News editor.

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