Four Things You Can Do to Help Children in 2012

Four Things You Can Do to Help Children in 2012It sure is hard to sort out what is happening in the economy this year. It’s up and then it’s down—maybe it’s moving sideways on some days—and the political discussion is not helping much. All I know is that too many people are out of work, and that is bad news for families and children. If you think the economic situation for adults is worrisome, consider these three facts:


  1. More than one in five American children now lives in poverty. (Source: US Census)
  2. Poverty is the single most significant predictor of child maltreatment. (Source: CLASP)
  3. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, poverty accounts for more than 40% of the variations in reading and math scores among American children. (Source: National Center for Education Statistics )

Sounds pretty ominous. So what can any of us do about it? Not being an economist, I looked elsewhere for answers.

One: connect with vulnerable kids. 

The research is clear that the involvement of caring adults has a huge impact on children’s lives, especially those who face multiple challenges.  There are many ways to get involved:

It really doesn’t matter which avenue you choose. Children and young people need a trustworthy relationship with a caring adult as much as they need practical help and guidance.

Two: do not be silent.

If there was any lesson in 2011 directly related to the well-being of abused and neglected children, it was that responsible adults must not stand by when children are abused or neglected. Reporting such behavior is a moral and ethical responsibility even if not mandated by law. States vary on who must report maltreatment, but all states permit anyone to file a report. Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway for information about laws in your state. To report suspected abuse or neglect, call 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) or your state hotline.

Every child has a fundamental right to be treated with respect. Any child subjected to violence has a right to look to responsible adults for care and protection.

Three: recognize and celebrate each child’s uniqueness

Researchers have found that the adults most likely to have a profound positive impact on young are people who:

  • See and celebrate the child’s potential
  • Make the young person their priority
  • Convey a sense of purpose
  • Show genuine interest and concern
  • Are motivated to give back to their communities

(Source: McLaughlin, Milbrey, Merita Irby and Juliet Langman. 1994. Urban Sanctuaries: Neighborhood Organizations in the Lives and Futures of Inner-city Youth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.)

Four: learn what kids need

If you are volunteering or working with older youth, learn about some of the strength-based research that can help you promote the young person’s development. The Fostering Futures project has information on an evidence-based “possible selves” approach that can have significant impacts on the young person’s educational progress and mental health status. More information about the needs of young people is available on the website of the Search Institute.

These individual actions are never going to show up in an economic report or in the numbers of the stock market, but individuals investing their time and energy in these ways can dramatically change the life prospects for a child in need. And every child whose life is changed can become an adult with a chance at a successful future.

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10 Responses to Four Things You Can Do to Help Children in 2012

  1. Amyl says:

    Children need a voice to speak up for them and represent them. There are so may kids in the system who are sent back home to homes that are Not appropriate or safe for them to live in. But yet reunification is ‘stressed” for children in these circumstances. If you were and adult and someone you live with is either abusing you or whether it is physically or emotionally would you want to go home knowing what has happened before? I know I wouldn’t I would be frightened. Just wish the system would think ‘MORE” about the children and their welfare instead of solely reunification. Not every person knows how to parent or wants to be a parent, for them it may have been a mistake. The children don’t receive proper representation in court so their experience(s) can be told to the judge.

  2. Barry W. Pezzullo says:

    Change the system and we will make a difference.

  3. Barry W. Pezzullo says:

    I have been a CASA for three years. What I have found out that budgets make more of an impact then our advocacy. Weak laws that allow parents to only do part of their services and then escape the system.

    In Indiana as long as the focus in on reunification and not what is in the best interest of the child, then and only then will we start to make a difference.

    CASA’s need more education, the 30 hour training course is not enough to prepare anyone to work a case.

    We are expected to deal with lawyers, social workers, and therapist on their level, and to understand the legal process.

    We as CASA’s are always recruiting, why because it is rare for a CASA to last for any period of time. If you see a five year CASA it’s something, a 10 year CASA is amazing. However we see CASA’s drop out before school is over, during their first case or within a year. Why we are poorly equipped to do this job.

    4 Things that are listed above great, but how about giving us a way to do legal research, or a legal data base that is geared to CHIN cases. How about a clearing house to exchange ideas of how we worked our case. I am really happy the CASA’s have so much success on this site. But I want to hear from the ones who lost their case, and why. What they would do different and how they lost.

  4. Great post! I just finished my CASA training in Clermont County Ohio. It’s been a very eye-opening experience and I’m looking forward to taking on a case.

    • Carolyn says:

      I also just finished training in Massachusetts and started a case two weeks ago. Just the two weeks that I have been involved with my case and I already feel like I’m making a difference. Wish I had started doing this work a long time ago. Good Luck in Ohio

  5. Barry W. Pezzullo says:

    Tell the Gov. of Indiana to stop cutting funds to D.C. S. I can get free services for the kids I advocate for, but cannot find the funding to provide transportation to get them there.

    With budget cuts we are seeing more cases being rejected that are reported. More children being sent home, and fewer children being removed from the home.

    We are also seeing more children receiving fewer services due to budget cuts.

    We are seeing more DCS turn over in Family Case Managers.

    • Carolyn says:

      So true. We spend 75% of all tax dollars on Defense while children and families in this country go without the basics because we are told their is not enough money to fund the programs. I hope people will wake up and demand from their government representatives that DCF gets continued and increased funding.

  6. Pingback: How You Can Help | Wounded Breeze

  7. jan henderson says:

    Once again. Awesome and will copy and send this forward.

    • jan henderson says:

      shoot…Once again that was awesome. I will copy and send this forward. (English teachers need red ink for correction of their own mistakes.)

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