The Public Children’s Service Associations of Ohio (PCSAO) act on behalf of children and families to make sure children are safe, fed, clothed, educated and cared for. In Franklin County, thousands of reports of child abuse come in to Franklin County Children Service, which served over 30,000 children and their families last year.
The primary goal is to solve the issues which contribute to child abuse. Educating the community and providing help and intervention for parents and caregivers under stress is the role of Ohio’s children service organizations. You may see blue pinwheels around town and across the state as a symbol of child abuse prevention. Pomegranate staff will be wearing blue on Wednesday, April 9th in support of raising awareness. Pomegranate Health Systems team has posted colored pinwheels on a giant wall-sized poster in the lobby to raise awareness; residents were involved by coloring the wheels.
Of the 31,798 referrals in 2013, FCCS investigated 7,706 abuse cases with 6,014 physical abuse, 1,465 sexual abuse and 227 emotional abuse. About 14.7% were substantiated and 7.3% indicated; 38.5% unsubstantiated and 39.5% differential. There were 3,883 neglect investigations with 12.2% substantiated, 2.9% indicated, 24% unsubstantiated and 50.9% differential. There are over 700 employees; 400 kinship families, 200 adoptive families and 500 volunteers and mentors as well as 100 agencies and organizations who support the work of Franklin County Children Services.
Caseworkers act on behalf of their clients, to make sure a child’s needs are met, and that may, but not always include treatment for mental and behavioral health issues. Residential treatment is advised when a teen is a danger to him/herself or others, or requires a more intensive level of supervision and care than they would receive in a home environment- whether their own, foster, or kinship care. Research confirms that children who have suffered abuse or neglect are significantly more likely to suffer serious emotional disturbance and/or the effects of mental or behavioral illness.
For young Jason, discipline with a wooden paddle whacked over his backside became nearly unbearable, not for the physical pain, but the psychological tear it caused in his relationship with his mother, who had also been abused growing up. His dad had moved to another state, leaving the family in a rather desperate position. Jason became increasingly combative, truant, and ran away. The family situation improved as his mother was connected with food, transportation, and other community resources to help provide daycare to his younger siblings. The family was connected with a therapist to help move in a stronger direction. Working with both Jason and his mom to journal the anger and pain they felt, and understand how to handle their feelings differently, improved the situation. Not every call results in removal of a child from parents, or parents accused, or stigmatized. Jason, of course is a hypothetical situation to illustrate how a child comes into care. Care involves valuing each child; honoring the family and contributing to compassionate solutions which serve the needs of each situation best.
The mission of FCCS is ‘through collaboration with families and their communities, we advocate for the safety, permanency and well-being of each child we serve in a manner that honors family and culture.’ For more information check out http://www.franklincountyohio.gov/children_services
[Photo credit: A few of the 2014 Pomegranate Health Systems care team, wearing blue to support April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month.]