Community works to protect today’s youth


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — A full crowd gathered in the Darke County Commissioners’ office to proclaim Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month. Commissioners Matt Aultman, Marshall Combs, and Larry Holmes were present.

Driving by the courthouse on Broadway, bystanders may have noticed the blue pinwheels planted by the Banner Bound 4-H club. They represent the 652 families served in 2023.

“This year’s theme: Doing Things Differently: Moving from the Challenge to the Change, is an ode to the positive change that is led by individuals who never give up or back down,” Michelle O’Connor, DCFFS Administrator said.

The passion these individuals embody often has the power to spark a desire in others. A desire to provide impactful services to children and families through consistent collaboration with community partners. This requires a significant amount of teamwork to ensure open lines of communication to implement strategies that are key for prevention.

“We only have a sampling of all the folks involved here today,” Holmes said. “We had folks from Children’s Services through representatives from the courts, so there is a lot of effort going.”

Holmes commended all the efforts of the community and said they all certainly want the young folks to be watched over.

“Protecting the children for the future is of the upmost importance in our county, and giving those kids an opportunity, protecting them and their life, is a very, very important thing that we take very seriously,” Combs said.

Combs said the month here is dedicated to recognizing that, and it takes a community to take care of the children.

“Also child abuse and neglect is about more than the physical,” Aultman said. “There is a lot more mental, and we are starting to see throughout the communities in the state of Ohio that at least the long term substance abuse problems, behavior abuse problems all lead to bigger problems within the community.”

Preventative services offered served 318 children and 201 adults in 2023. Approximately 162 families benefited from the wraparound support of the programs offered.

“We have Tina with Extension is doing some outreach, we also have Recovery & Wellness that is building out their programs, and Tri-County Board of Health is too to offset some of the mental health issues within the community,” Aultman said.

These preventative efforts allow children to remain in their homes while providing services to strengthen the family foundation. In 2023 there were a total of 42 children who received court ordered services while remaining in their home. These children were referred to services implemented by many of those who were present today.

“As you can see, without the support of the community providers, the work we do would not be possible,” O’Connor said.

Gratitude was extended to the community for its tireless, never-ending efforts to “Do Things Differently” to prevent child abuse and neglect.

The commissioners meet every Tuesday and Thursday at 520 S. Broadway St, Greenville, OH.

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

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