Vigil will promote child abuse awareness

WELLSBURG – A Child’s Place Court Appointed Special Advocates and A Comfort House Child Advocacy Center again will team for an event aimed at making area residents aware that child abuse is not a problem found only outside their community.

The two groups will team for a candlelight vigil to be held at 7 p.m. April 28 on the Wellsburg Town Square. For a donation or $5 or more, attendees may sponsor one of many luminaria to be lined along the square to represent the many children aided by the two groups.

A Child’s Place CASA is a nonprofit organization that trains volunteers to represent the interests of children whose parents face charges of abuse or neglect in Brooke and Hancock counties.

Often courts order such parents to undergo various types of counseling in an effort to keep families together, with the children’s safety an overriding factor, said Rhonda Stubbs, the group’s executive director.

CASA volunteers visit the families’ homes to ensure they are complying with the court’s orders and the children are safe.

Since it was formed in 2000, A Child’s Place CASA has served 511 children. Currently about a dozen volunteers are representing 109 children, Stubbs said.

Comfort House assists law enforcement officers and staff with the state Division of Child Protective Services in interviewing children suspected of being physically abused.

Jim Penebaker, director of A Comfort House, said 141 interviews were conducted in 2013.

He said the interviews don’t always lead law enforcement to file charges – sometimes children are found to have been coerced – a but a majority do.

Stubbs said CASA currently is short on volunteers and those interested in serving in that capacity can learn more at the vigil, which will be attended by current volunteers.

They also may learn other ways to help, from assisting with general office tasks to donating items for the children it serves, by calling (304) 737-4444.

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