April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Last updated 4/6/2020 at 1:33pm
April was proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month in 1983 and continues to be celebrated each April. The purpose of Child Abuse Prevention Month is to increase public awareness to help protect children and prevent maltreatment. Unfortunately, our society is reactive rather than proactive to protect our children. Studies have shown that the more prevention efforts that are put in place early create much better societal outcomes. Since we are primarily reactive, however, our jails are full of adults who were abused and/or neglected as children. Funding prevention that begins at birth can potentially make monumental positive societal changes. We celebrate this month by placing pinwheels out and about. They are in front of DSS, the Children’s Center, the Child Advocacy Center, the Family Resource Center and many other locations.
Child Abuse prevention is important to Transylvania County Department of Social Services. Often our community thinks DSS Child Protective Services staff are either baby snatchers or that we do nothing to help abused and neglected children. Please know that taking custody of children and placing them either with an approved kinship provider or foster home is the absolute last resort. Usually, we have given families many chances to make needed changes prior to taking custody and the Juvenile Judge is the one who makes the final decision. Also, due to stringent confidentiality rules, we are not allowed to share what we do to protect children.
Currently, we at Transylvania County DSS are quite concerned about our children currently due to the stresses caused by the coronavirus and the fact that teachers are not seeing the children daily. School is a safe place for many of our children and DSS has concerns that these children are now at serious risk of child abuse and neglect due to the increased stress caused by the coronavirus, the unemployment issues and its impact on families, as well as the fact that these children are isolated. Although our building is currently closed to the public, Transylvania County DSS employees are still working in the building. If you know of a child or an adult in an abusive and/or neglectful situation, call (828) 884-3174 to make a report from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and (828) 884-3188 after hours or on weekends and holidays. Our social workers are still working to protect our vulnerable children and adults.
On March 18, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was signed to provide for the issuance of emergency allotment supplements based on this public health emergency declaration by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. The State of North Carolina has elected to take the option of issuing Food Nutrition Services (FNS) supplements up to the maximum amount. NC FAST began automatically issuing the March supplements to active FNS households on April 1 and the April supplements will begin April 22. The supplements will be randomly generated and staggered every other workday until all households have been supplemented. If you currently receive the maximum amount, there will not be an increase.
•Maximum amount of FNS Benefits
•Household size of 1: $194
•Household size of 2: $355
•Household size of 3: $509
•Household size of 4: $646
•Household size of 5: $768
April is Autism Awareness Month. Research says that autism tends to run in families and that approximately 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with autism. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism compared with girls. Research has shown that early intervention creates the best opportunity to support healthy development.
There are both genetic and environmental risk factors. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child could develop autism. Environmental risk factors include advanced parent (either parent) age, pregnancy and birth complications, low birth weight and pregnancies spaced less than a year apart. Prenatal vitamins containing folic acid help decrease the risk. There is no evidence that vaccinations have any effect on autism.
For more autism facts and statistics, go to http://www.autismspeaks.org.
Subsidized Child Care Assistance has offered a pandemic subsidy for all critical/emergency classified personnel beginning April 1 through May 15. Go to the DCDEE website at https://ncchildcare.ncdhhs. gov/ We have three Transylvania County child care centers participating in this P-Subsidy program: Lisa’s Kiddiegarten (828) 877-3707, Nanny’s and Mommy’s Too (828) 877-2555 and New Adventure Learning Center (828) 884-3232. Feel free to call Nina Mathis at DSS at (828) 884-1629 with any questions you may have.
(Renfroe is the director of the Transylvania County Department of Social Services.)