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For the sake of the children

Editorial by Chris Kovatch

The month of April is dedicated to Child Abuse Prevention across the United States. The fact that there are people that exist that bring harm to those who can’t defend themselves is quite troubling. The fact is that the problem isn’t going away. On some instances it is actually getting worse. Contrary to popular belief, it is an epidemic that transcends class, race, and gender.

 

Locally, we are very fortunate that there are a number of groups that exist solely to protect and aid children in their time of need. I wanted to take this opportunity to share about my personal experiences with them.

Child Protective Services

When Christi and I decided to become foster parents, we began that journey by contacting CPS. The process, while extensive, is not something that should turn people off from being a foster parent. The goal is to ensure that the child is entering a safe environment, both in the physical and emotional sense. The classes that we took were quite informative and I actually felt a bit guilty that I didn’t get the same ‘training’ for my biological kids. Orange County is truly blessed with an amazing CPS staff. They search for the facts to ensure if a child is removed it is not done so on a whim. They work closely with both the biological parents and foster parents during the placement process. Generally the end goal of a removal is reunification with family and they work very hard with family members to get to that point, but at the end of the day the safety of the child is paramount. I totally understand there are a number of preconceived notions about CPS, but I can truly say that they work for the safety and best interests of the child. It may not always be easy. It may not always be pretty. But the life of a child is more than worth it.

Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping children that have been removed from their homes and placed with foster families. Often these placements are made in the middle of the night or at hours that stores are closed and that’s where the Rainbow Room steps in. They provide necessities for the first days for the children as they get settled into their foster home. It can be quite a shock for a foster family to add an infant overnight and a bag containing formula, diapers, and onesies can be a lifesaver. It also addresses a quite common need of the children. Often when a removal occurs all the child leaves with is the clothes on their back. They have nothing. The Rainbow Room provides items that try to ease what is an already stressful situation.

CASA

CASA or Court Appointed Special Advocates acts as the voice of the children in court. While a foster parent may attend court hearings, depending on the situation, their input can be rather limited. The CASA Advocate acts as a unbiased third-party who visits the child and observes them in their foster placement. They monitor adjustment and report back to the court how the child is doing in their foster home. Many times, the children can’t speak for themselves and this is where CASA is such an asset. As you can imagine with both the biological and foster parents, emotions play a heavy role in the process. This third-party tries to provide a perspective free from that emotion. They make recommendations to the Court regarding how the case should proceed. They work alongside CPS, the attorneys, and the judge to ensure the process is completed truthfully and fairly.

These are just a few of the people and groups that work to ensure local children are in safe environments that are focused on their needs and well-being. If you are interested in being a foster parent or volunteering with CASA or the Rainbow Room, I urge to reach out to them. They will be happy to answer any questions that you might have. I also request that if you know anyone that serves in anyone of these roles, take a moment and tell them thanks for what they do. It isn’t an easy walk that they take on a daily basis, but it’s one that can help ensure that a child gets to be a child. What greater cause is there?