As child abuse cases rise, agencies look for more advocates to help kids in foster care

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — With some students back in school, child abuse concerns are rising.

For months, many kids have been in distance learning and away from mandated reporters. But new data shows they’re sharing their allegations.

Amorita Johnson, the program director of CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties, said during the pandemic the number of child abuse reports dropped by 50%, and now that number is shooting back up.

​”Between April and September, the numbers went back up 50%,” Johnson said. “That is very disturbing, and it’s shocking for us. So we what we are doing is making sure that we see the children no matter what.”

KCK schools have remained on virtual learning since the spring. However, Angela Dunn, the behavioral health district coordinator for KCK Public Schools, said they are still working to identify and report abuse when they find it.

“Teachers will often tap in the social worker or the counselor if they’re concerned about a student. They might put them into a breakout room so that they can have a private discussion, just so that they can stay connected so that they can have that confidential space to be able to share any concerns that might be happening at home,” Dunn said.

Johnson is asking for people to sign up to become court appointed special advocates for children, or CASAs. Training is online, and the commitment to the child or children is about 10 hours a month.

A CASA is a sworn member of the court system and reports to the judge what they believe based on their training is in the best interest for the child. The training is completely free, and you don’t need previous experience in social work.

“We’re one cog in the wheel. But we want to make sure that everyone is focused on what the child needs. And then at the end of the case, the child will be in a safe permanent home,” Johnson said.

Johnson said only about half of kids in metro foster care systems have an advocate. If you are interested in becoming a CASA, you can find more information on their website.

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