MESA COUNTY, Colo.-According to officials at Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, child abuse continues to be a growing problem in Mesa County.
The issue was addressed Tuesday night at a community forum, where more than 100 residents and professionals discussed possible ways to combat the problem.
The Executive Director of CASA says for every 1,000 children in Mesa County, 17 were abused last year.
To put that into perspective, in Pueblo, five children out of every 1,000 were abused and in Denver, seven children out of every 1,000 were abused last year.
CASA is trying to lower these numbers, with the addition of two new child abuse programs.
According to officials with the Court Appointed Special Advocates, Mesa County has the highest rate of child abuse in the entire state.
“We have twice the rate of Denver and 3 times the rate of child abuse as Pueblo,” says Executive Director of CASA, Janet Rowland.
Sometimes, these cases claim the lives of children.
“In 2016 so far, there have been three child abuse fatalities,” adds Rowland.
Now, officials with CASA are implementing two new programs to help put an end to child abuse.
The first of which will help train the community on how to spot child abuse in public, and help de-escalate the situation.
“Communities Now, Connecting for Kids, is a program that comes here and trains average citizens on how to intervene,” sayd Rowland.
The second program is called EPIC, Executives Partnering to Invest in Children.
“Which is a program that brings the business community in to strengthen and support families that work for them,” adds Rowland.
CASA will handle The Communities Now program, and will begin in January.
“We’re looking at finalizing the contract with those folks at the end of this year, and by January having a kick off meeting,” says Rowland.
The EPIC initiative is looking for businesses to be more involved, and Rowland says it’s easy to join their cause.
“If other businesses want to get involved, they can either contact the Chamber of Commerce or Epic Directly,” Rowland adds.
If you’re interested in getting involved, there are a number of organizations holding meetings in the coming months.
The goal for Foster Care is to get children into 25 new homes by Christmas.
You can go to www.fostercareofmesacounty.org, to get more information.
If you want to be a Senior Partner, you can call 970-245-5555.
They have orientations every month, and up to 86 kids on the waiting list.
If you want to be a CASA volunteer, you can go to www.achildsvoice.org, with an orientation coming up on January 26th.
There’s also a Fostering Hope meeting on January 19th at 5:30 pm at City Hall.
This is where you can hear about all of the agencies helping kids, and decide what’s the best way to get involved.
Janet Rowland says if you need more information on how to get involved, you can contact her directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 970-242-4191.