Prevention Is Possible!

By Vicki Spriggs, Texas CASA CEO

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Last year, more than 68,000 children were confirmed by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to be victims of abuse or neglect.

No child deserves to experience abuse or neglect, or to be torn away from everything they know and placed in foster care. But do you want to know the good news? By supporting families, we can help prevent abuse and neglect, increasing the likelihood that CPS never has to come knocking when times are hard.

Let’s face the facts: parenting can be stressful! Across our community, there are parents and caregivers who may be struggling with balancing the stress of daily life alongside caring for a child. Stress in its many forms can be a contributing factor to substance abuse, mental health problems and even abuse and neglect.

As friends and neighbors, all of us can help reduce the stresses of parenthood by supporting families before they hit a breaking point. Whether that means offering childcare, donating needed supplies, cooking a meal or helping people connect to social services, these simple acts can make all the difference to a caregiver. Your time and conversation can also be valuable to a new or stressed parent. If you’re a parent, let them know they can turn to you when they have difficult moments. If you’re not, you can still listen!

On a bigger-picture level, we must invest in quality community-based services and education. Things like strong prenatal care, including coaching on how to parent. If you’re an expecting parent for the first time, what are the issues that you need to be thinking about? Where are the services that you need? Are they available and affordable? We need more community-based services that support families who are having children, and we need more support for the general needs of stressed families before they go into crisis—whether that’s substance use treatment, counseling, or help getting food and maintaining safe shelter. One amazing tool that families and advocates can use to find free and low-cost community support is

And critically, we need strong, affordable daycare programs. It shouldn’t be a choice for families of whether or not they go to work to pay for quality daycare or stay home. The cost of daycare eats up the checks of many families.

I encourage you to dive deeper into the issues around child abuse and neglect prevention, and how you can help, in our article, Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention: What You Need to Know & What You Can Do.

In this edition of The CASA Voice, we feature the personal life story of Monica, who describes growing up in and out foster care and how she ended up where she is today.

Monica went through great trauma as a child in a home where adults traded sex for drugs. Her story isn’t easy to read—and it’s a testament to how the human spirit can survive the most difficult circumstances and come out determined to find her true path and improve life for others.

Today, Monica is safe, happy and secure. She has broken the cycle and created a beautiful family of her own. She’s making a difference for other young people like her by working at a local CASA program, and has dreams of opening up a youth center of her own one day. Read her story.

“You may be a broken crayon, but you can still color with it. And instead of drawing fire with your red crayon, draw a heart to symbolize love, instead of drawing tears with your blue, draw raindrops that fall on flowers.”

Too often, young people who age out of foster care like Monica are not set up to succeed—They’re left virtually alone, traumatized and inadequately prepared to face adulthood. It’s critical that advocates for these young people are there for them through this time in their lives. That’s why we’re also spotlighting the 8th edition of A Guide for Those ‘Aging Out’ of Foster Care in Texas. This guide is written directly to youth in the Texas foster care system for them to use as a resource to plan their life after foster care.

We hope you find this edition of The CASA Voice useful and inspirational as we all work to raise awareness over the month of April. This month and beyond, remember, prevention is possible, and join me in supporting families in your community in whatever ways you can. Let’s build strong families, strong communities and a stronger Texas—and a brighter, happier future for Texas children.

Thank you for all that you do,