The Waller County Child Welfare Board is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping children experiencing abuse or neglect in Waller County. Members of the board joined together to provide answers …
The Waller County Child Welfare Board is a volunteer organization dedicated to helping children experiencing abuse or neglect in Waller County. Members of the board joined together to provide answers to questions posed by the Katy Times.
The responses below have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Q: What is the Waller County Child Welfare Board, and what do you do in the Waller County community?
A: Childhood maltreatment includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and physical and medical neglect. Each day in the U.S., Child Protective Service confirms 1,785 youth are victims of maltreatment. In 2019, CPS received maltreatment referrals for approximately 7.9 million youth and nearly 425,000 children in foster care.
WCCWB consists of county residents appointed by the Commissioners Court to provide normalcy for youth removed from their homes and placed in the foster care system. This involves ensuring children have typical childhood experiences, such as playing school sports or attending a school prom. In addition, WCCWB collaborates with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and court-appointed special advocates to provide financial support and resources. WCCWB also works with DFPS to provide financial support and resources to help preserve families.
Q: What are some of the challenges that children in Waller County face that the Board assists them with?
A: Youth removed from their home may be placed in an institution, residential facility, foster care home or with a relative anywhere in Texas or the U.S. to live with relatives or receive adequate care. Before the pandemic, Waller County had up to 73 children in care. Last year, this number decreased, but these numbers are gradually increasing. In Waller County, most do not remain here due either to placement with relatives who reside elsewhere or because of the shortage of foster homes here. Many foster care youth placed in Waller County reside with relatives who live in this county or reside in Boys and Girls Country, a residential facility in Waller County.
One of the biggest challenges we face is securing qualified foster homes within Waller County. Anyone can search for private adoption agencies in Region 6 or throughout Texas at https://bit.ly/3kEVbgo to look into being a licensed foster home.
Q: What is the role of a court appointed special advocate – or CASA – in children’s lives that are involved in the child protection system?
A: When a child enters the foster care system, a judge may appoint a Court Appointed Special Advocate. CASA volunteers are trained to represent and advocate in the best interests of children involved with CPS. CASA volunteers are assigned to help one child or a set of siblings and are committed to them for at least 12 months. CASA volunteers save taxpayers money and children’s futures by helping children find safe, permanent homes as soon as possible.
CASA volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” for the judge by researching each child’s situation and making objective recommendations to help children reclaim their childhoods from abuse and neglect. It is ideal of every child to have a CASA volunteer. However, there is currently a shortage of volunteers. Those interested can learn more at https://bit.ly/3wWfit7.
Q: If someone sees a child that is struggling with abuse or neglect, what steps should they take to help that child?
According to Texas law, anyone suspecting child abuse or neglect in Texas must report it immediately. Reports can be filed by phone at 800-252-5400 or online at www.txabusehotline.org.
It is imperative to make reports as soon as possible. Tips to remember when reporting:
Q5: How can people pitch in to help children facing the challenges discussed in these questions?
There are several ways individuals can get involved.
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