Monday, December 11, 2017, 10 a.m.
The Least of These: Helping Kids Be Kids
Ray Lara, Education Specialist, Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center
Sarah Crowder, Manager of Volunteer Recruitment and Outreach, Dallas CASA
Every child deserves a safe, loving home. But every year more than 20,000 Dallas County children are reported abused or neglected or victimized in some way. They may suffer from trauma and separation from the only life they have known, even if they love and trust their abuser. Many have never had a dependable adult in their life.
Two local nonprofit social service agencies that seek to help these children are the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and Dallas CASA. Last year DCAC provided services to 4,100 of these kids. Dallas CASA served nearly 2,800.
GUSTO! will learn how these two nonprofits help kids at its Monday, December 11 meeting, when Ray Lara of DCAC and Sarah Crowder of Dallas CASA talk about “Helping Kids Be Kids.” Both organizations seek to reduce the children’s trauma and stress and help them find a stable, loving environment.
DCAC serves sexually and physically abused children whose cases are referred by law enforcement or Child Protective Services. Working with these and other partners, DCAC provides a coordinated, multi-agency approach to investigation, intervention and treatment. This reduces trauma, provides a stronger foundation if the case goes to court, and leads to a better outcome for the children.
Dallas CASA (short for Court-Appointed Special Advocates) is an organization of volunteers who are voices for abused and neglected children. The volunteers are appointed by the courts to gather information and make recommendations to help judges decide what is best for each child. With the help of caring advocates, the cycle of abuse and neglect can be broken.
Ray Lara joined DCAC as a bilingual forensic interviewer. He has interviewed over a thousand children and continues to provides expert witness testimony in court cases. As education specialist, he assists child-serving organizations, including CASA staff and volunteers, with mandated reporter training, child protection polices, and child abuse awareness training. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the University of North Texas.
Sarah Crowder began her career in child advocacy as a forensic interviewer. As manager of volunteer recruitment and outreach at Dallas CASA, she uses her previous experience to recruit, screen and interview potential volunteer advocates. She holds a bachelor of science degree in sociology from the University of Oklahoma.
“The Least of These: Helping Kids Be Kids” is free to the public and will be held at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 6411 LBJ Freeway, Dallas. Coffee is served at 9:45 a.m., the program is at 10, and a Q&A and reception follow. Friends are always welcome.