Representing the families

Apr. 02, 2013 @ 05:41 PM

Children in Vance County served through two child advocacy agencies were represented with 491 pinwheels to kick off Child Abuse Prevention Month on Tuesday morning.

Franklin-Vance-Warren Opportunity’s Family Resource Center hosted the event, with children from their Head Start program acting as special guest gardeners.

Pinwheels were described as a symbol of child abuse prevention, representing community efforts to provide children with safe, stable, nurturing relationships needed for healthy development.

Mayor Pete O’Geary and various leaders from throughout the community were present to show their support for the cause.

“I am here every year for this,” O’Geary said. “They do such a good job.

“When you look at all of these young children out there, who could ever abuse one of them? It’s unbelievable.”

The family resource center is a comprehensive community center designed around the needs of families in Vance County. Through a variety of workshops and enrichment activities the center offers tools and support necessary to help adults succeed as parents.

“We do family engagement through Head Start and Family Resource Center so, it’s really 491 families that the pinwheels represent,” Gregory said.

With nearly 500 families in Vance County served through FVW and Head Start, it’s impossible to identify a number of abusive situations that have been deterred through prevention.

“The biggest obstacle we have in garnering support for prevention, it’s hard to prove something didn’t happen,” Gregory said. “You can show your impact through intervention, but it’s hard to show prevention.”

However, specific figures highlighting the need for abuse prevention can be seen through the Vance County Department of Social Services, which accepts reports of abuse and neglect or dependency.

From June 2011 until June 2012, social services accepted 390 reports of abuse, neglect or dependency.

Out of those 390 reports, which can involve more than one child, 142 children received protective services or had services recommended for their family.

“We do assessments of any report that meets the definition of abuse, neglect or dependency,” said Meredith Houchins, supervisor of Child Protective Services. “We go out and do those assessments and if it is, then we go into what’s called case management services.”

According to Houchins, Case Management Services are non-voluntary services provided through organizations such as FVW.

“We use resources like FVW Opportunity because they do have parenting classes, they have a lot of resources for families in Vance County to help strengthen the families,” Houchins said. “They help keep the kids safe in their own home.

“That’s really what it’s all about.”

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