SANTA MARIA, Calif. - It's being called an urgent crisis in the community.
"We’ve hit a breaking point. Now children who are at high risk are being reported and removed from their homes for their protection," said Kim Davis with CASA of Santa Barbara County.
Santa Barbara County's largest child advocacy group is now seeing the highest number of child abuse cases in a decade.
"Yes what we’re seeing is more than double the number of children we are normally asked to serve," said Davis.
Last year CASA served 532 children.
Now, 156 children are still waiting for a CASA advocate.
"In one week 23 children had to be removed from their homes for their safety. 23 in a week. That’s normally the number of children we would see in the course of a month," said Davis.
While the pandemic has not made anything easier for CASA, it hopes to increase the number of volunteers as more cases are expected in the coming months.
"I was at court where a judge said he predicts four times the number of cases in the next few months," said Davis.
During the pandemic CASA program volunteers are adapting different ways to advocate for abused children.
"Our volunteers have been so resilient and creative in the ways that they’re connecting with the kids," said Kira Cosio with CASA of Santa Barbara County.
The organization depends on volunteers to serve children who have been abused.
"We’re ready to do the training. We adapted really quickly to the pandemic by moving our training to an online platform so it’s a perfect time for people who want to become a volunteer," said Davis.
She says having more than 150 children on the waiting list is not acceptable.
"As a Community we have to get together and get this job done," said Davis.
If you would like to become a volunteer or help children who have been abused contact CASA of Santa Barbara County at (805) 739-9102.