As the opioid crisis envelops more Ohio families, more children are finding themselves in the hands of a court-appointed advocate. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Franklin County, a non-profit organization, works to give a voice to children struggling with abuse and neglect.
“We see an entire range of abuse from physical abuse to sexual abuse to neglect with regard to safe housing, food, education,” says Kevin Greenwood.
Greenwood is CASA’s new executive director, and he says the opioid crisis continues to drive many families apart. In 2018, CASA’s 237 volunteers have handled cases involving about 855 children.
Greenwood says that’s only about a third of the children abused and neglected in Franklin County who end up in the judicial system.
“One of the really sad and upsetting situation that we see is the rise in familial trafficking of children, either for the drug money or the drugs themselves,” Greenwood says.
At the head of CASA, Greenwood will be responsible for strategic planning, organizational management and community relations. He will also be in charge of meeting fundraising goals and volunteer objectives.
“I’m hoping to make a difference by sharing the word about CASA,” Greenwood says. “We’re one of those organizations that a lot of people don’t know about us, simply because they haven’t been involved with an abuse or neglect case within the Franklin County court system. And because they don’t know about us, they’re not aware of the need and how we can help these kids in these very difficult situations.”
Greenwood previously held the role of development director for CASA of Franklin County. He says that as the head of the organization, he would like to expand its mission and serve more children.
“There are way too many kids facing a life after abuse and neglect who need a voice, who need a consistent presence,” Greenwood says.
Greenwood says CASA works to reunite the children with their families when possible.
“When we’re able to provide a better life for these children, that benefits us all,” Greenwood says.
CASA’s outgoing executive director Kathy Kerr announced her retirement earlier this year, after serving in the role for seven years.