In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Clermont County Department of Job and Family Services has teamed up with four local churches to increase the county residents’ awareness of child abuse in the county.
St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church, Union Township, Eastside Christian Church, Milford, Mt. Carmel Christian Church, and Bethel United Methodist Church have teamed up with the DJFS to display bruise colored Pinwheels For Prevention to make the residents more aware of the prevalence of child abuse in the county and what they can do to prevent it.
“We’re very appreciative and excited about our partnership with the faith community,” Clermont Children’s Protective Services Director Tim Dick said. “We’re trying to reach out more in the faith community. We can work well together to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, the ones that need care the most, our children.”
Dick said his department saw a 26 percent increase in child abuse and neglect investigations las year, the majority of which were physical abuse cases. The CPS gained custody of 132 children suffering from drug related abuse or neglect in 2009.
Half of the cases of physical abuse that were reported in 2009 were drug related. Dick said there were a significant number of children born with heroine and methadone addictions.
"The babies need to be put on a methadone drip for up to several weeks to be weaned of the drugs," Dick said. "It's very difficult to sooth the babies and they have difficulty eating. Sometimes they have respiratory problems."
Dick said the most important thing community members can do for children suffering from child abuse is to report any and all abuse.
"All referrals are citizen generated," Dick said. "Whether it's police, teachers, or citizens, the community is our eyes and ears."
The CPS offers several programs for drug addicted parents and works hard to resolve the issues keeping parents away from their children.
"Once we're made aware we can go in and work with the parents, if they'll allow us," Dick said. "We have parent educating programs and can refer them to proper parent practices."
In addition to reporting incidents, residents can become foster parents or take part in the annual Walk for Clermont Kids at the Batavia Township Community Center on Cough Pike Saturday, May 1.
Dick said the walk is very family friendly and includes games and crafts for children.
The money raised during the walk is used to fund activities the federal and state governments do not fund. Dick said foster children are sent to summer camps, join sports teams, pay for field trips, buy graduation pictures and caps and gowns.
"The walk pays for anything that will expand and enhance their social skills," Dick said. "We want kids to be involved in pro-social activities and we can't rely on foster parents to pay for it, they're giving so much as it is."
For more information on the walk visit www.clermontforkids.org