April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Dare County Department of Health and Human Services (DCDHHS) and the Children & Youth Partnership for Dare County (CYP) are working together to spread awareness and encourage all community members to be partners in prevention.
This year’s theme across North Carolina is “Nurturing Positive Childhoods: Building Prevention in Partnership,” emphasizing the responsibility that we all share in supporting families and providing nurturing environments for our children.
“When we work in partnership to address the root causes of child abuse and neglect by investing in programs that provide parenting support and education, economic support for families and protective factors in every community, we can remove the heaviest loads from weighing families down,” said CYP Family Support Services Coordinator Molly McGinnis. “In doing so, we ultimately build a stronger future for all of us.”
According to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, protective factors proven to prevent child abuse and neglect include parental resilience; social and emotional competence of children; parenting knowledge of child development and parenting skills; concrete support for parents; and social connections.
During the month of April, community members can help spread awareness by participating in the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign by planting a pinwheel garden. “The pinwheel is reflective of the bright future all children deserve and our belief that we all have a stake in nurturing positive childhoods,” McGinnis said.
McGinnis also encouraged parents to register for one of the free parenting programs offered through CYP by calling 252.441.0614, ext. 4 or emailing McGinnis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, DCDHHS’s Family Services Unit provides a variety of services to support families, including energy, child care, transportation and emergency assistance. Its Family Support Services program is available to families with at least one child under 18 years of age and focuses on increasing family stability, strengthening family relationships and identifying support systems.
To make a referral for yourself or someone else, please contact the DCDHHS Social Services Division at 252.475.5500 to speak with a member of the Family Services team.
What to do if you suspect child abuse in the community?
If you suspect child abuse, neglect or dependency, you can call Social Services at 252.475.5500 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and ask to speak to a child protective services social worker. Outside of those hours, contact Dare Central at 252.473.3444 and ask to speak with the on-call social worker.
“We have someone available to take calls 24/7,” said Leigh Brinkley, DCDHHS Family Services Supervisor. “Your report can be completely anonymous if you are not comfortable sharing your information. However, even if you give your contact information, the social worker cannot share who made the report with the families.”
For more information on Child Abuse Prevention Month and how members of the community can take part in prevention or order pinwheels, visit preventchildabusenc.org. Pinwheels are also available at CYP while supplies last.