Grayson County commissioners approved a proclamation Tuesday declaring April as Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in the county.

“We’ve been doing this for several years,” Grayson County Commissioner David Whitlock said as he, acting as the head of the court in Judge Bill Magers’ absence, introduced the petition and those who had come to speak about it.

One of those people was Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Casework Supervisor Robin Bethel who addressed the court about April being set aside as a time to remember and recognize child abuse victims.

“It’s exciting to see so many people in blue here today,” Bethel said as she looked around a room filled with people wearing blue shirts. She said across the state of Texas, April 7 has been declared as Go Blue Day and people are encouraged to wear blue in support of abused children and those who work with them.

Bethel said CPS in Grayson County currently has 298 children that are in the foster care system. “That number is on the rise unfortunately,” she said. She said this year’s total of children in services is up 55 cases from this time last year. “There were 592 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect from 2016,” she said before thanking the court for continuing to support the efforts to help those children.

Christy Perkins, a member of the Grayson County Child Welfare Board, thanked commissioners for the county’s financial support. She said that money has been used to provide children in the system has school clothes and other things that they need. She reminded the court that the last Sunday in April is a day of prayer for victims of child abuse in the state.

Brandi Martin, executive director of the Grayson County Children’s Advocacy Center, also thanked the court for its efforts on behalf of the areas abused and neglected children and the agencies that work with the those children. She left the commissioners with pins that they could wear.

“Let it be a conversation starter so it can raise even more awareness of the issues. This is a problem in Grayson County. It does exist here and we need to make sure that people know about it and know that when they suspect something, they should make a report,” she said.

President of the Children’s Advocacy Center Board John White told commissioners he became involved in supporting those who work with abused children after a term on a Grayson County grand jury. “It was one of the most heartbreaking things I (have done),” he said, “especially when I had to listen to little children tell the stories (of abuse).” He said it made him want to do something about it.

Natalie Jamison, executive director of CASA of Grayson County also thanked them for proclaiming this child abuse prevention month.

“We have 54 volunteers who are who are serving over 126 children,” she said. “These volunteers give thousands of hours of their own time to be there to walk with these kids through one of the hardest times of their lives,” she said and then added, “after April is finished and the ribbons are gone and the blue is not being worn, I challenge everybody, especially myself, to remember to proclaim everyday child abuse prevention month and to ‘Don’t Mess with Texas children’ and to ‘Stand Up for Kids’ and to “Be the Big voice for Small Texans.’”

Commissioner Phyllis James, in her closing comments for the day, said, “I just think it is so tragic that we have 592 abused children in Grayson County.” She said, she is thankful for all of the volunteers and others who work with local agencies to help those children.