AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – ‘National Child Abuse Prevention’ month is in April and there are many centers across the Panhandle that provide support to children in need.

According to Amarillo Area CASA (court-appointed special advocate), the Panhandle has one of the highest rates of confirmed cases of child abuse in the state of Texas, and Potter County has twice the state average. Amarillo Area CASA is a center that provides a CASA volunteer for every child of abuse and neglect.

Azaley Pulley, Amarillo Area CASA recruitment and fund development director said that there are currently 900 children in foster care and the center is only serving about 26% of those children.

“So, the more volunteers that we have, the more kids that we can serve, you know, to make sure that they’re not falling through the cracks. To make sure that their orders are being taken care of. We help through medical, educational therapeutic needs,” said Pulley. “But you know, we also are for the family as well, too, like we want these children to strive and be in the best environment that they can possibly be in.”

Pulley said that during Covid the number of reports decreased due to children being at home more often.

“So, number one reporters are teachers and staff wise at an education facility. So, whether that’s being in daycare, whether that is an after-school program, or it is school. So, whenever Covid hit no one was able to report it, kids were being at home,” said Pulley. Some of them weren’t being fed, kids were being mistreated, where you go through that abuse, and there was no one to tell, they weren’t able to open up.”

Pulley talked about ways people can help children that are in need.

“If a kid is hungry just ask a kid, you know what is going on. Of course, if there is any marks or bruises. If a child is hiding from a certain adult, not wanting to talk about something,” said Pulley. “Just kind of guide the, let them know that you are a trusted adult. That it is okay to talk about these things. That they are not going to be the ones in trouble at the end of the day. “

Pulley said she reminds kids that may be experiencing abuse or neglect that they are loved and there is someone who will be their voice and advocate for them.

To honor ‘National Child Abuse Prevention’ month, Amarillo Area CASA is asking for businesses across the Amarillo area to wear blue every Friday. Businesses will be able to send photos to the center so they can show the children that the community is supporting them.

The center will also be having a giveback day at all Amarillo Dutch Bros locations on April 14. During the giveback day, a dollar from each purchase will be given to Amarillo Area CASA.

The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center will also be honoring the month by lining its lawn with pinwheels to honor every Panhandle child who was interviewed by The Bridge staff in 2022. They will also have ‘A Mile in Their Shoes’ on Saturday, April 29.

To learn more about both centers you can visit their websites.

Amarillo Area CASA

The Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center

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