CADIZ - Harrison County Commissioners passed a resolution Wednesday recognizing April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Ohio Children's Trust Fund has chosen the slogan "Pause for a Child." The importance of the visual reminder has increased with the severity of cases reported according to Harrison County Department of Job & Family Services Children's Services Supervisor Linda Porter
"Here in our county, the number of reported cases of child abuse was 355 during 2012. Of those reports, 127 became open cases," said Porter.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
To further promote awareness about child abuse and neglect, during the month of April, the Harrison County Courthouse lawn will display pinwheels representing the 355 new allegations of child abuse and neglect that were investigated and assessed in the period running from April 2012 to April 2013. Pictured with the display are Linda Schoppe, Social Services Worker II; Commissioner Bill Host; Linda Porter, Children’s Services supervisor; Commissioner Dale Norris; Commissioner Don Bethel; Michelle Coffland, Children’s Services Clerk; L. Scott Blackburn, director of the Harrison County DJFS; and Demetrius Carrothers, Social Services Worker II.
"There were 61 children that came in and out of foster care, 30 of which were from the previous year," Porter stated. "These are not dirty home cases, 32 children came in due to drug use by their parents or unsafe home conditions due to drug use."
"These were not your run of the mill marijuana cases. These drug cases involved meth labs, cocaine, crack, heroin, bath salts, snorting and shooting up of prescription drugs." Porter told the board that these cases are "being investigated for sexual abuse, physical abuse with bruises, parental drug abuse involving neglect, meth labs in homes causing enormous concerns for residents or neighbors, abandonment and operating a vehicle under the influence with children in the car."
Child pornography was also the cause for children coming into county custody last year,
"We first look to place the children with family members or with persons with whom the children have an established 'kinship,' however, that is not always possible. We have a critical shortage of local homes to provide love, support and guidance to an increasing number of children in our community who need help," said Porter. "Because of the shortage, many abused and neglected children in Harrison County must be sent to homes in neighboring counties, taking them further away from their friends and families. This makes a difficult situation even harder for these children."
Porter stated that families or individuals interested in becoming foster parents should contact her office.
"The children in Harrison County need to stay in Harrison County, not be sent to group homes or foster homes in other counties," Porter pronounced. "The agency desperately needs family foster homes, especially those willing to take teens. At this time, the agency has 7 foster homes, and only one is willing to take teens."
"If we take time from our hectic day-to-day activities, we might notice a child who could possibly be the victim of abuse and neglect," Porter concluded. "Make a child a priority. Take time to focus on prevention."
To report suspected abuse or to inquire about becoming a foster parent, call the DJFS offices at 740-942-2171 or 800-960-7820.
Palmer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org