April has been designated Child Abuse Prevention Month in Yadkin County. At Monday’s meeting of the board of commissioners, Yadkin County Human Services Director Kim Harrell, along with several staff members of the county’s Child Protective Services department, spoke to the board about child abuse and neglect in the county.
Last year there were 66 confirmed cases of child abuse or neglect in Yadkin County, Harrell said. Those victims will be honored on April 11 at 9:30 a.m. with a ceremony held on the courthouse square in Yadkinville. Following the ceremony there will be a screening of the film “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope”, a film about the long-lasting effects of child abuse, at the Willingham Theater at 10 a.m.
Kim McDevitt, social work supervisor for Yadkin County, reported during Monday’s meeting that as of April 2, there have been 18 confirmed cases of abuse or neglect and 10 of those children have been placed in foster care.
“Our agency is on call 24/7 to deal with reports that come in of child abuse and neglect,” McDevitt said.
McDevitt added that identifying the needs of a family is the first priority and finding services to assist that family. She said that ultimately the goal is to keep families together whenever possible.
Substance abuse is on the rise and one of the primary issues social workers are encountering when working child abuse/neglect cases.
Social Worker Pam Herold said that they are increasingly seeing cases where children are exposed to illegal drug use, even witnessing a parent overdose or being present while a parent purchases illegal drugs.
Kelsey Beamer, another social worker, said their department has seen an increased number of reports of sexual abuse. She said they rely on local law enforcement and child advocacy groups to help investigate those cases.
Engaging families and encouraging them to reach out for services before the issue becomes too great is another issue they often see. Out of fear or shame, parents often do not want to reach out to admit they have a problem and need assistance, whether it be in regard to substance abuse or mental health concerns. Social Worker Gretchen Branch said the department is in need of more resources to be able to better pair families in need with appropriate mental health providers, particularly for children struggling with mental health issues.
McDevitt said when social workers are able to engage with families that are often able to develop a positive rapport.
“Families are beginning to see that our goal is to keep children with their families,” she said.
Following the presentation, the board officially proclaimed April Child Abuse Prevention Month calling upon “all citizens, community agencies, faith groups medical facilities, elected leaders and business to increase their participation in efforts to support families, thereby preventing child abuse and strengthening the communities in which we live.”
Chairman of the Board Kevin Austin specifically called for the faith community to get involved. Austin said of those already registered for the April 11 event, the faith community is underrepresented.
“I would like to make an appeal to our faith community to take part in this important event,” Austin said.
To register for the April 11 event and screening of the film “Resilience” visit https://yadkinccpt.eventbrite.com or contact Marcy Mays at 336-849-7548.
Kitsey Burns Harrison may be reached at 336-679-2341 or Twitter @RippleReporterK.