Needs for child abuse support highlighted in Hands Around the Co

Needs for child abuse support highlighted in Hands Around the Courthouse event

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Of the over 900 child abuse cases, CASA only has enough staff to handle a third. Of the over 900 child abuse cases, CASA only has enough staff to handle a third.
PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

Hand-in-hand, Peorians are working on making Central Illinois a better place for families and children in abusive situations.

"Everybody should have some level of care and compassion for our community, because we all live here," said Jeff Gress of Crittenton Centers. 

The 10th annual Hands Around The Courthouse event on Friday is designed to spread awareness about Child abuse. Among those who take part: CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates.

"Our kids are our future. You know, we need to invest in our children," explained Ryan Lacerna, an Advocate Supervisor with CASA. "And like Director Sheldon had mentioned, they're only 25 percent of our population but they're 100 percent of our future."

These special advocates stay with children after traumatic events, and act on behalf of the court in the child's best interests. 

They decorated the Peoria courthouse with blue pinwheels, one for every pending abuse case in Peoria county. 

CASA says of the 951 abuse cases currently open in Peoria county, they only have enough staff for a third of them - which is why they're asking you for help.

Executive Director of CASA Pamela Perrilles explains that anyone can be a Special Advocate - all it requires is a little training, a background check, and the right attitude.

"It only takes an adult to really make a difference - you know, that one caring adult to really make a difference in a child's life," she said. 

If you're interested in volunteering with CASA, they are hosting several training days over the next few weeks - all are required for certification, with the first on Saturday the 29th. 

You must be able to pass a background check, and cannot be a foster parent. 

For more information or to sign up, call CASA's office at (309) 669-2939. 

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