April kicks off Child Abuse Prevention Month

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Although April marks Child Abuse Prevention Month in every community and state, the combined efforts between government agencies and private organizations extends to every month, especially in Churchill County.

“Each one of you has a job or passion that reaches into our community to prevent child abuse,” said Churchill County Commission Chairman Pere Olson as he and others kicked off the special month at Millennium Park with speeches and a proclamation on Go BLUE Day.

Olson said Churchill County had 427 reports of child abuse on 2018, and to recognize that number, he said 427 pinwheels to recognize each report have been planted on both the city and county. He said April launches efforts to increase awareness of child abuse and to make people aware of the available programs.

Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford read a proclamation on behalf of the city and county.

“Effective child abuse prevention strategies succeed because of partnerships created among citizens, human service agencies, schools, faith communities, health care providers, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community,” Tedford said.

Additionally, he said “with the overreaching goals of community resource, public awareness, prevention programs and advocacy, Prevent Child Abuse Nevada has a vision to be a community leader, partner and resource in preventing child abuse and neglect in the State of Nevada.”

Sue Sevon, court administrator for the 10th Judicial District Court, spoke on behalf of Judge Thomas Stockard, who was unable to attend. Her remarks focused on the Court Appointed Special Advocate program that began in Churchill County in 2014. Since that time, she said here have been 21 adoptions, 10 guardianships and 24 reunifications of families. During the Christmas season, Sevon said individuals and civic groups assisted in providing a party and Christmas gifts to 102 children who may have gone without presents.

“The biggest challenge currently facing children in the community is a lack of foster homes,” Sevon said. “Currently, we have 13 homes in Churchill County. Based on the numbers of children who find themselves in need of placement, we should have 30 to 40 homes at a minimum with different skill sets for all ages of children.”

Sevon encouraged those in attendance to consider being a foster parent or seek additional information from the state’s Division of Child and Family Services. She said Stockard works diligently to ensure children are placed in safe and secure environments.

Kelli Weishaupt, social services manager for DCFS, said the agency handles all aspects of child welfare in 15 counties, and her office covers four rural counties. In the United States, Weishaupt said more than 3.6 million annual reports involving more than 6.6 million children are handled.

“A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds,” she said.

Weishaupt said during April, public and private agencies, community organizations, volunteers and concerned citizens unite to highlight the problems of child abuse to educate the public in the various methods of prevention.

Sheriff Richard Hickox, who has worked many child abuse cases as a deputy, said his agency and the Fallon Police Department work diligently to investigate cases of child abuse. He said training has extended to the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe.

“I’m very happy toddy to be here and to be part of this as we renew our efforts at the sheriff’s office to continue to fight this but also see what we can do more in the future,” he said.

David Ernst, the county’s recreation supervisor, said a partnership has been developed with the city, county and other organizations to provide a number of free activities to support the prevention of child abuse. He also said many activities are designed for families to undertake and for them to develop stronger bonds.


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