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CASA Program sees rise in child abuse during COVID-19 pandemic

Program seeks more volunteers
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 5:51 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Many say the fallout from COVID-19 is just beginning, and for a program that advocates for foster care children, they tell KMVT they are starting to see the affects.

But the key to solving the problem isn’t funding, but instead something more valuable — time.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, schools were shut down, and many children were missing out on people in their lives who look out for them.

“We usually have teachers that are eyes on kids, and they make a lot of those reports,” said Tahna Barton, the executive director for the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program in Twin Falls. “We have maybe afterschool programs, day care providers, and when we have a shutdown like we recently had, we no longer have those eyes on the children.”

Child abuse and domestic violence increase during times of stress, especially for children in the foster care system, but the CASA program, only received a few new cases of child abuse.

“We in our district, only had a small handful of new cases during the shutdown, which is an unusual number for us,” Barton said.

Any adult in Idaho is mandated to report to authorities when they think a child may be in danger or abused.

“We as Idaho adults are mandated reporters, if we see something that is concerning, we are mandated to report, if we see something that is concerning and didn’t say something you could be liable for that,” said Sylvia Renova-Gaxiola, from the CARES Program.

As a CASA volunteer, there are four roles; the first is to investigate the child and their case, then they will report what they found to the judge, and recommend to the judge what that child needs. Then volunteers will monitor and follow up that the needs for that child are being met

“You have to care about children,” Barton said, “and you have to have faith that you can make a difference, because it doesn’t always come running up to you, but you have to have faith that what you are doing is helping the issue.”

To become a CASA volunteer, contact the Fifth Judicial District CASA Program at 208-735-1177 or email Tahna Barton at tahna@5hcasaidaho.org

To report child abuse call: 855-552-5437.

Copyright 2020 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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