Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Ellis County will partner with The Avenue Church and Interchange to hold a Candlelight Vigil for Child Abuse Prevention Month at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 16 at the pond of The Avenue Church, 1761 N. Hwy 77 in Waxahachie.

“Since April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we wanted to bring more awareness to the epidemic of abuse, neglect and child abandonment in Ellis County,” stated CASA Executive Director Rhodie Rawls.  “In 2014, there were 66,572 confirmed victims of abuse and neglect in Texas. This means every 8 minutes, a child becomes a victim.”

CASA served 138 kids who had been removed from their homes in Ellis County last year, Rawls reported.

“We are seeing an all-time high for removals by Child Protective Services, and appreciate our dedicated volunteer advocates who continue to serve these children throughout their time in foster care,” she said.

Community volunteer advocates must complete thirty hours of initial training, including courtroom observation and extensive background checks and fingerprinting.  CASA advocates serve as mentors for the children that have been removed from their homes and are in the foster care system.  These volunteers attend court hearings and make reports to Judge Jim Chapman on the child’s well-being, and also help to advocate with medical and educational issues.

For information on the Candlelight Vigil, or becoming a volunteer advocate, visit www.casaofelliscounty.org or call 972-937-1455.