Program Manager: Mary Smith
Program: This program provides information on child abuse and neglect to children, students, parents, educators, and mandated reporters. Training is conducted for other groups, including the faith community, foster parents and civic groups, which includes statistics, recent data reporting guidelines, and general information about the prevention of child abuse/neglect. Each year the program manager provides presentations for hundreds of people: any group that will listen. “Safe Sanctuaries” training is available to churches needing training for those who work with children and youth in their churches. This training can be adapted to the needs and requirements of individual churches. Crisis intervention and brief counseling services are available when requested by schools, individuals or other groups.
The Child Abuse Prevention Program distributes material on issues related to child abuse/neglect to Family Support Council Staff, who then share with their clients and other groups of people. Prevention material is sent to all of the schools through Heroes Against Child Abuse and is distributed at every possible occasion. When appropriate, supporting legislation related to child protection issues, and informing the general public of the seriousness of child abuse in our community, is an additional responsibility. In 2004 the Council played an active role in the production of a training video for mandated reporters. This was a joint project with the Governor’s Office, Georgia Department of Education, Office of the Child Advocate, Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, and the Department of Family and Children’s Services. Shaw Industries’ Media Production department worked closely with Family Support Council and the local school systems to produce the video “Kids Count on You: Mandated Reporting in Schools.” Copies of the video and training materials were sent to every school system in the state of Georgia. Training continues to be conducted using this video and copies and materials are on hand in our office. A more recent video has been produced at the State level, to encourage child care centers to help strengthen the families that they serve. This video and the companion materials have been used by the program manager to train child care workers to recognize and report abuse and look for ways to help parents keep their children safe.
Local annual events help raise awareness of child abuse issues and provide a vehicle for community participation in the prevention of abuse. Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in April help raise awareness in both Murray and Whitfield Counties through the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign and utilization of the media. Pinwheels are displayed at the Murray County Courthouse and on the lawn of the Dalton City Hall with each pinwheel representing a reported case of abuse or neglect in that county. Each pinwheel often represents more than one child in a family. In 2013 there were 1,147 reports in Whitfield County and 346 in Murray. A ceremony is held at each location with a guest speaker to emphasize the importance of being involved in the prevention efforts of the community. In 2013 emphasis was placed on the prevention of bullying. It is important for us to remember that for each pinwheel on the lawn someone had the courage to report. Recognition is given to those who work in the field of child welfare and also to those in the community who simply care.
We believe that the diligence of FSC in sharing information about abuse and neglect has contributed to better reporting in our area. With the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse, long work hours, and stress in our area, it has been difficult to expect a marked decrease in reported abuse in the next year. Since 2004, at least 6,000 adults have received training and/or support through the Child Abuse Education Program. Over 8,000 individuals receive services each year with one part-time staff member and a few volunteers.
Our child abuse educator has been trained to provide workshops for parents, the general public and the faith community on topics such as, “Let’s Talk,” “Circles of Safety,” and “Building Blocks of Healthy Sexual Development.” This well-researched initiative has demonstrated that to better protect our children from victimization, it is important to educate and assist adults in understanding how to keep children safe, while also teaching children about personal safety. Materials were provided by Prevent Child Abuse Georgia, which are still being shared at every opportunity with current clients, those who work with children, and the general public. Materials on child abuse prevention are distributed at every opportunity through FSC staff or at other events. Appropriate materials are given at almost every presentation and also during Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.
Recently, the Child Abuse Prevention Educator participated in training to be a facilitator for this area for Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children. This training is designed to empower people to prevent child abuse. It also seeks to raise awareness of the prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse by educating adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. The training can be provided for any group of adults in our area.
Although the emphasis is on prevention, counseling services are offered on a very limited basis. Generally, these services have been available to current clients, support group members, divorce class clients or at the request of a program manager on an as needed basis. Judge Cindy Morris has noted progress with the families who have received counseling with us in addition to the Cooperative Parenting and Divorce class taught by Tom Bartley and Mary Smith.
Grief and loss education has also been available in recent years to meet a need in the community. Our child abuse educator, also a counselor, often is called to the local schools when a crisis or death has occurred. Direct services to students and FSC staff have been helpful during the past several years. Sessions on Grief, Loss and Suicide Prevention has been provided to students in Murray County in past years, and similar information has been provided at Southeast each year and Dalton High School when requested. This particular session is available to any middle or high school. Because grief and loss issues are often symptomatic of child abuse survivors, this topic has proven to be increasing in interest in the community. Workshops on grief and loss have been provided additionally for grandparents, camp participants, staff and other adults in the community. Within the past few years there has been an increased interest in workshops on stress. These workshops are tailored to specific audiences from children to adults and are from 45 minutes to two hours in length.
Mission Statement: The prevention of child abuse and neglect by providing awareness of child abuse issues to community members through educational and support programs.
Objective: The Child Abuse Prevention Education Program strives to ensure that a wide range of services is directed toward the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
Program Funding: This program currently receives funding from the United Way of Northwest Georgia, FSC fund raisers and occasional small grants. Staff includes one part-time paid staff member.
Objectives/Goals/Measures: Program goals related to services provided to families include enhancing family functioning and stability, promoting positive parent-child interaction, and ensuring appropriate childhood growth and development.
Child-related outcomes include:
Parent-related outcomes include:
Community-related (adults) outcomes include:
Collaboration: The Family Support Council has been the largest charter member of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia and has been closely involved in the activities promoted by PCAG since the late 1980’s. Locally, this program partners with The Department of Family and Children Services, our local school systems, Dalton State College, Head Start, child care providers, Children and Families First, the Murray County Collaborative, any child serving agencies, the Faith Community, the court system, The GreenHouse, and the Child Abuse Protocol Committee.