Child Abuse Awareness Month
• April 2022 •
During Child Abuse Awareness Month this April, I’d like to share a little known L.A. CADA service with you: it’s our Youngest Crime Victims Program funded by the Department of Justice, Office of Crime Victims. The program addresses a problem most people don’t like to talk about: children and youth who suffer neglect, abuse, or mental health problems due to family substance use.
As a treatment agency, L.A. CADA always advocates for recovery care for substance users, not punishment. But what happens when parents who drink and use drugs harm their children by doing so? Our staff are mandated reporters, but we still advocate for treatment. L.A. CADA’s Youngest Crime Victims program provides the needed intervention services to further that goal.
The largest child protective services agency in the nation is right here in Los Angeles County. On any one day, there are more than 35,000 open cases at any one time across 88 cities. And in 2018, 59% of all open cases overseen by L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) involved substance use issues. When parents are otherwise occupied by a focus on drug-seeking, children in substance-using families are often neglected. Many are abused.
Those children are afraid. Despite the abue, they fear they will lose the parent they love. They fear an uncertain future. And sometimes they fear that they were responsible. These are big burdens for little ones to carry. To help these children, L.A. CADA offers the following services:
- Information, referral, and training for trauma-informed treatment;
- On-scene crisis response to alcohol/drug-related events where a child/youth is present;
- Mental health case management, counseling, and support groups; and
- Victim advocacy and accompaniment.
During the COVID pandemic, abused children have been out of the sight of mandated abuse reporters (teachers, counselors, and medical personnel). But they don’t have to be forgotten in the chaos of family substance use. L.A. CADA wants to help. Keep our number on hand if you know a family affected by parental alcoholism and drug use. Call (562) 906-2676 and ask for Program Manager Caryl Lark.
Learn how: How Parental SUD Affects Children