In 2020, 6,122 calls were made to Stark County Children Services Report Line, resulting in 2,762 cases requiring assistance or intervention.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month recognizing the importance of families and communities working together to strengthen families to prevent child abuse and neglect. Through this collaboration, prevention services and supports help protect children and produce thriving families. All adults play a role in building the safe, stable, nurturing homes and environments needed for the healthy development of our future generation of parents, leaders, and community members.
Wear Blue is a statewide awareness campaign that takes place in April – Child Abuse Prevention Month. In 2011, Stark County Job & Family Services decided to promote “Wear Blue to Work” day instead of holding a pinwheel planting ceremony for Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the month of April, everyone is encouraged to wear blue – to work, to school, to a community event – to show support for preventing child abuse and neglect.
This year, Wear Blue day will be April 14, 2021.
Those at Stark County Job & Family Services seek to bring awareness to the issue of child abuse as their main priority is keeping children safe. Those in the Intake Department are the first point of contact for concerns of abuse and neglect. While these individual investigate these concerns, they also connect families and children to necessary supports. The goal is never to remove children from their homes as “reunification is always the key,” says Charisma, Stark JFS Intake Worker. The staff hope to keep families together through providing parents with education, resources, and tools, which assist them in creating safe, appropriate environments for their children.
Kim, Intake Worker at Stark JFS, explains, “My job is to find creative measures to maintain the children with their parents. Whether this be locating supports to relieve stress barriers for the caregiver, implementing community services for further assistance and so much more.”
The dedicated staff at Stark JFS meet with families and interview children and parents to assess safety, and they make sure environments where children are placed are ones where where they can thrive. When it is determined that it is unsafe for children to stay with their biological parents, there becomes a need for foster families. Amber, intake worker at Stark JFS, states, “Keeping a child in their home with their family is the best situation. Removing a child from the home not only causes trauma to the child but to the entire family.” Foster parents become vital in these situations as they provide support to children and assist them in the healing process.
Kim gives this advice to future foster families: “Regardless of the trauma they may have endured, love them like they are your own biological children, because in the end, they want to feel accepted and loved just like any other child.”
Along with those who work hard at keeping children safe at Stark JFS, foster parents are key in child abuse and neglect prevention. Suzanne, Intake Supervisor at Stark JFS, encourages foster families to “open your hearts and your ears completely. Some of the most ‘challenging children’ have never been loved or heard. It may only take one loving adult that takes the time to really listen to create an environment for that child to start to heal.”
Stark County Job & Family Services employees share why child abuse prevention is so important:
“Child abuse prevention is very important because children belong with their families. I investigate families because of the young age of becoming a parent, mental health, substance use, poor coping skills. In my viewpoint, families can have the assistance to prevent harm towards children through services that are implemented. This will make sure parents can have the education for children to remain in the home.” – Kim
“Child Abuse Prevention is so important because some children do not have a voice for themselves and they deserve advocates to ensure their safety. There are often generational aspects of child abuse and breaking that cycle is important to the future generations.” – Amber
“Children are our most vulnerable population and our worlds future. Many are not able to self-protect and don’t have the ability to speak out and get help. They deserve a foundation of love, safety and belonging.” – Suzanne
“Child abuse prevention is important because children deserve to have a good life as this will shape their future. It is also essential that parents are aware of the resources that are available so that in times when they are stressed or need help, they know who to reach out to.” – Charisma
You can participate in child abuse and neglect prevention awareness campaign through wearing blue and taking a photo of yourself and your family, coworkers, friends, and others wearing blue. Share the photo on your county children services agency’s Facebook page or on the Ohio Wears Blue Facebook page.
If you are concerned that a child may be being abused or neglected, please call (330) 455-5437.
If you’d like more information on how to become involved in foster or adoptive care
visit http://www.starkjfs.org or call 330-451-8789.