Walker County’s youngest victims will be recognized throughout April during Child Abuse Prevention Month.

At 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, the county’s children’s protective services board will hold a short program on the courthouse steps in honor of the children who have lost their lives to abuse, the children in foster care, the foster parents, law enforcement and caseworkers who help children in crisis.

“We have anywhere from 40 to 90 children in care at any given time,” said board chair Patricia Hipps. “We had 89 children in care this week. We want to make everyone aware that child abuse is not just in places like Houston, but it’s here, now so more than ever.”

Assistant district attorney Jack Choate and County Judge Danny Pierce are scheduled to speak Tuesday and children from head start will sing.

“We will say a prayer for children in need of foster parenting or who have lost their lives,” Hipps said.

The CPS board was established in Walker County in 1975 by the county commissioners court and is under the supervision of the county court. The board does not receive money from the state or county for funding and must raise all the money it utilizes for services like the Rainbow Room.

The Rainbow Room is stocked at all times with new clothing, shoes, pajamas, toiletry items, baby needs, individual security blankets and cleaning supplies.

“Often when children are removed from their homes, they leave only with the clothing on their backs,” Hipps said. “The Rainbow Room provides each child with a couple of outfits, shoes, underwear and other items. It is a small way to help ease the pain of being removed from the only life a child has ever known.”

The CPS board also sponsors the Christmas Cheer Club to insure that each child in CPS custody receives a present Christmas morning. Each child is asked to list three things they would like to receive and their clothing sizes. Community members then sponsor a child they would like to buy for.

“It really will give you chill bumps to see all those gifts lined up down the hallways,” Hipps said. “Only thing is that we don’t get to see the children open the gifts, but we know how they must feel to get those things.”

Hipps said Walker County foster care struggles for foster families. There are currently less than 15 licensed foster homes here, and that number has remained the same in five years, although the number of foster children has more than doubled.

“If we can’t place them here, they go to Conroe, Houston or a group home,” Hipps said. “The goal for the local CPS is to keep children within the biological family, and if the situation is a workable situation, children can go home within a year. For the tougher cases, CPS will work on severing parental rights after a year.

“We have kids from zero to 18, and foster families can request certain ages, a boy or a girl, siblings or whatever child will best fit their family. We try to tell people not to take in a child younger than your youngest child. That way, the foster child will better fit the lifestyle of the foster family and so you can be the best foster parent possible.”

For more information on how to help or become a foster parent, write to P. O. Box 976, Huntsville, Texas, 77342-0976. The CPS board accepts monetary donations at the same address.

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