Commissioners proclaim April Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — Darke County Commissioners recently proclaimed April Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month. Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshall Combs, and Larry Holmes were present.

“If you want to change the world, you can really do it through public service.”

Children are the future of Darke County, and the commissioners strive to make this county better for them than it was when when they were children, and everyone benefits when children grow into contributing members of the county.

Darke County Job and Family Services Administrator Michelle L. O’Connor spoke to the commissioners and select students from the surrounding schools about Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month. She said the month of April has been declared the month of awareness by the Darke County Commissioners and Greenville City Mayor and has been recognized Nationally since 1983.

“Child Abuse and neglect Awareness is visually represented on the Courthouse lawn by the Pinwheels for Prevention that were planted by the Banner Bound 4-H club,” O’Connor said.

The Pinwheels for Prevention is designed to enhance community awareness about child abuse and neglect and encourage support for the prevention. The pinwheels represent the 780 children served during 2022.

“We are thankful to have the Banner Bound club partner with us for more than 11 years to help bring awareness to child abuse and neglect,” O’Connor said.

Prevention requires a foundation of strong cross-system collaboration with providers all over the county. The missioner is to work together to meet the individuals needs of those they serve.

“This is truly a topic that requires teamwork and collaboration,” O’Connor said. “Without the collaboration of those I have listed, many of which are here today to support the cause, the numbers I will discuss later could look drastically different.”

ODJFS Director Matt Damschroder’s experience supports that children thrive in safe, stable, and nurturing homes.

“My wife and I are foster parents and adopted both of out kiddos from the public childcare system,” Damschroder said.

He said he is happy to have a full portfolio when it comes to the work he does, as he has both a professional and personal role with the child welfare system. He said it is important to draw public attention to the challenges they have in the child services system.

“Prevention is one of the most important things we can do,” Damschroder said. “Whether it is mandatory reporters in schools, law enforcement, or just seeing something in your community making sure you notify officials when there is something suspected can really make a difference in the life of a kid.

Prevention services are a large portion of the work conducted locally through the Intersystem Diversion Team (IDT) and Family Centered Services and Supports (FCSS) program. Over the course of 2022, IDT had provided services to 85 families, which included 201 children and 121 adults. FCSS had 90 cases, which provided services to 227 children and 139 adults.

“I would say to the young people here, as you consider careers and what you want to do, we encourage you to consider a career in public service. If you want to change the world, you can really do it through public service,” Damschroder said.

He encouraged them to get involved in the community, and as they figure out what career path they would like to take to explore careers and opportunities to serve in their hometowns and communities through public services.

“Preventing child maltreatment requires county wide effort to bring about an awareness of ways to identify and prevent child abuse and neglect,” Aultman proclaimed.

“I just can’t think of anything that is more difficult to deal with than child abuse. It’s wrong and robs that child of a safe environment, so it is some serious stuff. There are things that go on that are more difficult for me to understand and tolerate,” Commissioner Holmes said.

He believes it is important to work together to spread awareness on preventative measures and services one can utilize in order to be an ally to those in need.

It is encouraged that everyone continue to report concerns of abuse and neglect to the Darke County Children Services during daytime hours at 937-548-4132 option 5, or the Darke County Sheriff during evenings or weekends at 937-548-2020. Reporter information is never shared, and reporters can remain anonymous.

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

No posts to display