Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Commissioners recognize child abuse as serious issue - encourage support of at-risk families

El Paso County Commissioners Recognize April 2011 as Child Abuse Prevention Month - Citizens Encouraged to Support At-Risk Children and Families in Our Community
Colorado Springs, April 19, 2011 – The Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) proclaimed April 2011 as “Child Abuse Prevention Month in El Paso County” with a resolution presented at their April 19 meeting. The resolution was brought before the Board by Commissioner Vice Chair and El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS) Liaison Sallie Clark, who stressed that the DHS office receives more than 12 thousand reports of child abuse and neglect annually and that DHS maintains a monthly caseload of nearly 3,400 at-risk children who require oversight and protective services from DHS and partnering agencies. The resolution also addressed short- and long-term health complications that abused children encounter – both physically and emotionally – and acknowledged the County’s close collaborations with numerous community partners to prevent child abuse and neglect through family-oriented programs focused on awareness, education and outreach to at-risk families. 

Commissioner Clark then introduced a video highlighting the efforts of DHS’s Child Welfare Military Project, which is designed to reach out to military families and ensure they receive the specialized support they need given their unique circumstances. The video featured an army sergeant who was serving her second tour of duty overseas when she was called back to the U.S. due to a domestic violence issue in the home that had been providing care for her children while she was away. DHS caseworkers dedicated to the Child Welfare Military Project were instrumental in getting her stateside and reuniting her with her children in just a three-day time span. Following the video, Clark commended DHS staff for all their efforts in preventing child abuse and neglect and added, “I don’t know how you do what you do, but we certainly appreciate it, and so do the children that you serve.”
A number of child abuse prevention advocates attended Tuesday’s meeting, including DHS Child Welfare Administrator Shirley Rhodus, who shared: “Child abuse is a community-wide problem and it takes our entire community in order to prevent it by strengthening and supporting our families.” Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) representative Jan McMillen also spoke to the County Commissioners about CASA’s primary goal “… to be the voice of children in court … following the children, seeing how they are doing wherever they are placed, making sure they have the services they need to become more stable and working towards the goal of reunification with parents or placement in foster or adoptive care, when necessary.”

Bethany Child Placement Agency representative Jill Bradley asked meeting attendees to reflect on a stressful time in their life when they needed support and to consider what they would have done if nobody was there to lend a hand. “I believe there are many reasons why child abuse occurs but I feel truly that the main causes are a lack of support, a lack of connection and isolation.” Bradley then challenged citizens to reach out to families in distress and heralded the efforts of community alliances such as Community Partners for Child Development, Head Start, Pikes Peak Family Connections, KPC Kids’ Place and Safe Families for Children, among others, in reaching out to families in distress and stopping abuse before it occurs.
To view the Child Welfare Military Project video, visit El Paso County’s YouTube website:

*Information courtesy of El Paso County

As a reminder, CASA's Annual Light of Hope Fundraiser breakfast and lunch will take place on April 28, 2011 at the Antlers Hilton, 4 S. Cascade Avenue. For additional information, contact Karri Baker at 719-447-9898 x 1006 or visit: