MIDLAND - It's a statistic local child advocacy agencies never want to see: the number of child abuse cases rising.
For Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA of West Texas in Midland, child abuse cases in the seven West Texas counties they serve spiked by nearly one hundred from 700 cases to 790 cases from 2010 to 2011 and they're still stretched to the breaking point trying to fight it.
"We've had to start declining court appointments for children under the age of four," CASA Executive Director, Patty Pisklak, said. "We have approximately 20 children right now who don't have CASA advocates advocating for them in court. That's a serious issue for us."
Nearby Center for Children and Families, Inc. said their case load hasn't gone up or down but has stayed constant and they can't cause a decrease.
"Every day when I turn on my computer there's an E-mail that says 'We're sending another family. We're sending more kids. How soon can you get us in?' It's just a constant need," CCFI Licensed Professional Counselor, Kristi Edwards, said.
Is the Basin's booming population to blame?
Edwards said it's a possibility and also possibly the cause of a darker trend of abuse she's seeing in kids.
"We have seen an increase in sexual abuse," she said. "That does not seem to be cultural. Maybe it's just the increase in population in the area. So, with the increase in population, we just see more of the things we don't particularly like to see."
"It could be the population boom. It could also just be awareness about when to call, when to report child abuse," Pisklak said.
Whatever the cause, agencies are reaching out to the community for more volunteers to try to rope this increase in and send it falling down.
CASA is hosting a volunteer training session in Big Spring from July 17th to July 26th.
To ask about applying for the session, call their Big Spring office at (432) 263-4162 or their Midland office at (432) 683-1114.