As many of you are aware, April is child abuse prevention month. You will see and read many articles about the effects of child abuse and neglect, the number of abused and neglected children in our area as well as what you can do to help. There is another foster care experience that seems particularly ubiquitous and equally disturbing: putting all of a child’s belongings in a trash bag when they have to move from one home to another. It’s bad enough that foster children or youth have to move repeatedly from “home” to “home” but these children can easily get the message that they do not deserve a permanent home and they are no more valuable than rubbish. Foster youth move an average of 2.8 times during each stay in foster care.
Everyday 1200 children are placed into foster care in the United States; there are more than 4,000 children in foster care in West Virginia. Last calendar year CASA served 255 children from Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties; so far since Jan. 1, 2017, we have 47 new children. These numbers do not reflect those children placed in Youth Services through WV Department of Health and Human Services, meaning there are more children in out of home care, treatment programs and placements. Most of these foster care children have been removed for their own safety and protection due to abuse or neglect. Some children have parents who are addicted to drugs, others have been sexually abused, physically abused or medically neglected but all these children need to be safe.
Most of the time these children within the foster care system are given trash bags for their belongings, if they have anything at all to take. Once they are removed from their own home, they will often have to move to another foster home, child shelter or residential placement depending upon the ability to find a foster home. The foster care children or youth have to bag all of their belongings in these trash bags and move along to the next unknown “home.” If you do not know much about foster care, these children may not stay in one home for very long before they have to be relocated with another “family” or placement. It’s hard for these children to be taken from their homes and placed with strangers. It’s even harder for them when they feel just like those “trash bags” being thrown from one house to the next.
City National Bank and CASA of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit are teaming up together and asking for your help. We would like to provide our local children in foster care with their very own duffel bag, back pack or suitcase, so they don’t have to cart their only belongings from home to home in a black trash bag. Each bag will be distributed to our children in need within Greenbrier and Pocahontas Counties. Our goal is to have 500 suitcases or duffle bags donated to cover each child currently in care as well as to cover those coming into care. If we exceed our goal of 500, the backpacks, duffle bags and luggage will be shared with foster care children through Children’s Home Society, the Greenbrier Valley Children’s Shelter and those children in foster care from Monroe and Summers Counties. Often Greenbrier County has many children placed in the shelter or foster homes that did not reside in our county prior to their removal. Please bring new suitcase, luggage, back pack or duffle bag to City National Bank at 130 Piercy Drive, Lewisburg, or at the Marlinton branch throughout the month of April.
All children deserve love, respect and dignity, please do your part and help us today. Together we can make a difference for all the children in our communities or coming into or area by letting them know we do not think they are “trash” and deserve a little respect and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
CASA of the ELEVENTH
JUDICIAL CIRCUIT, WV, Inc.