Experts Predict Child Abuse Will Increase During COVID-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Court Appointed Special Advocates of Bradley and Polk Counties has transitioned to training new volunteer advocates online in order to be prepared for an inevitable influx of cases as soon as the local courts fully reopen. 

"This pandemic affects everyone but it especially leaves our most vulnerable children at a heightened risk,” said Executive Director Christopher Janetzko. “Experts across the country are predicting an increase of child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. As stress and anxiety increases in households, many children are going to be the victims of regrettable acts of violence and neglect.”

As many organizations are forced to suspend activities, CASA is ramping up its recruitment of volunteers to address this need. The agency initially planned to recruit and train 20 new volunteer advocates by the end of  2020. CASA has now adjusted its plan to recruit 20 new volunteers before July 1.

In order to be able to train these additional volunteers, while respecting the state’s social distancing recommendations, the agency will be using the National CASA/GAL Association's online platform. The curriculum is a blended approach to training that combines self-guided work and in person video conferences with CASA staff. In addition to the online classes all volunteers are required to pass a background check and submit three references. 

"For the last 10 years CASA has been lifting up the voices of children in Bradley and Polk Counties and we have no intention of slowing down our advocacy during this critical time,” said Mr. Janetzko. “We are looking forward to swearing in a large group of advocates as soon as our courts fully reopen.”

CASA's first online cohort will start on Wednesday and another one will begin on May 13. Those interested in becoming a volunteer advocate with CASA should email Advocate Manager Natalie Barrionuevo at casemanager@casabp.org or call 472-5800. For more information about CASA’s COVID-19 response visit casabp.org

Child abuse and neglect should be reported to 877-237-0004 and in the case of  a emergency or life-threatening situation call 9-1-1.

CASA is funded under a grant contract  with the State of Tennessee, The National CASA/GAL Association, and United Way of the Ocoee Region. 


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