DARKE COUNTY—Darke County public officials representing Children Services, Juvenile Court, law enforcement, community services, health, education, the Prosecutor’s office and CASA participated in a proclamation signing recognizing April as Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month in the county and City of Greenville.
According to Becky James, Social Services Administrator, the year 2012 presented continued challenges for the 10 staff members in the Children’s Services Unit regarding the impact of mental illness, unsafe parenting skills, lack of child development knowledge, lack of support systems, and drug and alcohol abuse on child abuse and neglect. Children Services had contact with and/or provided services to 1,742 individuals; 925 children and 817 adults. James noted that according to the law, a child born with a positive illegal drug screen will most likely be found to be an abused child. The mother’s prenatal illegal drug use can result in her infant testing for illegal drugs; which includes the use of marijuana in addition to numerous others including, but not limited to cocaine, opiates and barbiturates. There can be very serious health issues for an infant that has been exposed to the drugs taken by the mother in addition to the neglect and physical and sexual abuse that can be linked to parental drug use. James indicated that drug and alcohol abuse, combined with a parent’s lack of support systems, parenting skills, and knowledge can be a recipe for tragedy.
Children Services received 845 calls during 2012; 536 of those calls were based on concerns of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. There were 106 formal investigations and “FAMILY IN NEED OF SERVICES” cases. There were 50 children in CSU custody during the year. This low number is significant as it is the lowest number of children in custody in the past 10 years. Forty-three children received court-ordered in home protective services. Four adoptions were finalized. Fifty-two children benefitted from adoption subsidies.
While immediate child safety is first and foremost, Children Services also works with many agencies to provide prevention and interventions that will preserve families and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. During 2012 CSU accepted the responsibility of facilitating Intersystem Diversion Team (IDT) meetings. The IDT is a group of participating agencies that works with families who voluntarily want to make changes in order to preserve their families and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect. The CORE IDT includes the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Darke County Family and Children First Council, Darke County Health Department, Darke County Juvenile Court, Darke County Recovery Services, Family Health, Greenville City Schools, Gateway Youth Services, Mental Health Clinic, and Children Services. After referral and discussion, a family team is created to work with the family on an as needed basis. During 2012, 128 children and 82 adults participated in the IDT process.
Another prevention program is the Family Centered Services and Support program. Under a different name, this program has been implemented since 2004 with funding from Family and Children First Council. Many families with multiple challenges that include drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, and medical concerns have benefitted from voluntary participation in the program. In the past three years, the Coordinator of the program has had 672 meetings with families. Services include family support, home visits and transportation.
Look for pinwheels in the Commissioner’s yard, planted by the Banner Bound 4-H Club. The pinwheels are planted as part of child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month.