April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and CASA of the Ohio Valley is providing resources for children and families to use.

According to the Kentucky Youth Association, there were 30.4 children per 1,000 in foster care between 2017 and 2019 in McLean County, ranking 19 out of 120 counties in the state. Statewide, there were 51.1 children per 1,000 in foster care between 2017 and 2019.

Kentucky ranks number one in child abuse victims from 2015 to 2019 per 1,000 children with 20.1, according to the 2019 Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. West Virginia is second with 18.7 and Pennsylvania is last with 1.8.

Terri Coke, McLean County CASA advocate, said Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state, meaning that if a teacher or school staff suspects abuse or is certain abuse is happening in a student’s home, they are required to report the situation.

“A lot of the time we rely on the schools and that’s why it’s especially troubling during the pandemic because kids aren’t in school,” she said. “Teachers will notice things like if children are hungry or their clothing is dirty or repeated or a change in personality.”

Coke said CASA talks a lot about resilience.

“We don’t always know what causes which child to be resilient over another child,” she said. “Sometimes it’s just their personality. We know a lot of times children learn resilience from a caring adult. That’s part of our mission, to be that caring adult.”

According to Coke, child abuse can affect a child’s brain development.

“A child who has to live through trauma and abuse, their brain forms in a different way and can affect them for the rest of their life,” she said. “It can affect them in a variety of ways so we want to catch them early and help them move away from that because we know what kind of an impact it can have on their life.”

CASA handles different areas of abuse and neglect such as lack of supervision, medical, educational, substance, nutritional, physical and sexual.

For more information about CASA of the Ohio Valley, visit casaov.org or call 270-683-2138. CASA is located at 608 Frederica Street in Owensboro.

For additional local resources, visit thecenterodc.org.

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