Child services efforts help most vulnerable
‘Go Blue’ on April 9 to raise awareness, find solutions
By Ken Esten Cooke— It shouldn’t hurt to be a child.
That is the basic message behind child abuse prevention efforts both statewide and in Gillespie County.
“While stopping abuse after it happens is critical, it’s not enough. We need to stop it before it starts,” said Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner John Specia. “Man of the parents Child Protective Services (CPS) works with are young, some are poor, and almost all of them are under stress and need some kind of help. Helping parents is one of the keys to preventing child abuse.”
Let’s face it — parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and many with a low education level, or who come from abusive situations, find themselves as parental roles without much knowledge. Educational efforts such as these can help break a cycle of abuse.
The DFPS campaign, “Help for Parents, Hope for Kids,” educates parents about child abuse and points them to help in their communities. These efforts can strengthen parenting skills and teach better care for children.
Gillespie County is not immune to abuse and neglect of our most vulnerable citizens — our children. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services reports that there were 160,000 allegations of child abuse and neglect in Texas last year. Of those, there were 66,398 confirmed victims of abuse and neglect, more than 17,000 had to be removed from their homes for their own protection, and, disturbingly, 156 children died at the hands of parents or caregivers.
Raising awareness is the first step to combating child abuse. Each April, DFPS reaches out to county and local governments to cooperate in efforts to combat abuse and neglect. We thank Mayor Jeryl Hoover and County Judge Mark Stroeher for proclaiming April as “Child Abuse Prevention Month” and today, April 9, as a day to show support for these efforts by wearing blue.
Gillespie County Child Services Board is appointed by the commissioner’s court and serves as a support group for abused children and their foster parents. Those members will place pinwheels on the courthouse lawn in recognition of the county’s confirmed 49 victims of child abuse and/or neglect.
The CPS board also assists with school clothing costs, donates birthday gifts, provides appreciation gifts for foster parents and assists financially with the children’s other needs. We applaud the CPS board’s efforts to develop a policy to allow financial aid to offset certification costs for “kinship” foster parents and relatives who accept children in their care.
It’s a sad state that these efforts are needed, but we are thankful for the board’s work and the love-filled work of foster parents.
To learn more about child abuse prevention efforts in our community, look on the “events” page at www.HelpandHope.org. The site has testimonials of parents who overcame abuse to become better parents.
Take time to learn the signs of child abuse and report concerns at TxAbuseHotline.org.
Those who want to go the extra step and consider adoption of an abused child can visit AdoptChildren.org.