Each year the Family Support Council sponsors “Pinwheels for Prevention” in Murray and Whitfield Counties. There were 1528 pinwheels displayed on the Murray County Courthouse lawn and 607 pinwheels displayed on the lawn of Dalton City Hall. Each pinwheel represented a reported case of child abuse or neglect in 2018.
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 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.
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.
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 2018 there were 1528 reports in Whitfield County and 607 in Murray. A ceremony is held at each location with a program designed to emphasize the importance of being involved in the prevention efforts of the community. In 2018 “Celebrating Our Children” was the theme with Juvenile Court Judge Phil Woodward as the speaker. The Pinwheels Ceremonies for 2019 featured local DFCS directors. 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, thousands of adults have received training and/or support through the Child Abuse Education Program. Over 7,000 individuals receive services each year with one part-time staff member and a few volunteers.
Since 2014 the agency has provided training for this area with Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children. This training is designed to “empower people to prevent sexual 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. This training has been made available at no cost to over 5,000 adults. Our “tipping point” (5% of the population to create change in a community) is 1472 in Murray and 3779 adults in Whitfield County. The tipping point was reached for Whitfield County in October, 2017 and we are now working toward 10 percent. We hope to reach the tipping point in Murray County this year. All three local school systems and Christian Heritage have received this two-hour training for the staffs in all of the schools. Three different Church Safety Summits on three different Saturdays within a two-month period in 2018 have reached audiences primarily composed of men. Another Church Safety Summit was provided in March 2019 for Murray and Whitfield with 51 church leaders attending. The Summits were provided through partnerships with law enforcement and United Way and reached over 200 people.
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 are available 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, the Alan S. Lorberbaum Family Foundation, and private donations. 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, child care providers, Whitfield and Murray Family Connection, any child-serving agency, the Faith Community, the court system, the Greenhouse, and the Child Abuse Protocol Committee.