Coordinated Community Response Column

In 2008, the Door County Department of Social Services Child Protective Services Unit in Door County investigated 214 cases of suspected physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.

April is Child Abuse Prevention month, putting focus on the need to do what we can to bring that number down.

This year’s national theme is Strengthening Families and Communities. Strong families raising healthy, stable children make for strong communities. Children are the future of our society and early nurturing and support leads to a healthy and productive future for all children in Door County.

Preventing child abuse means promoting healthy and stable families who have access to the physical and emotional resources they need to nurture their children’s health, safety and general well-being.

The Protective Services Unit provides state-mandated assessments and services to families where children are alleged to have been abused or neglected. Referrals are initiated by a variety of mandated reporters (those individuals obligated by law to refer suspected child maltreatment based on contact with children during the course of their professional duties) or non-mandated reporters (concerned citizens).

All cases are approached with a philosophy of keeping families together and providing them with the education and resources they need to prevent future child maltreatment and maintaining their children safely in their home.

When safety cannot be maintained in the home, children are placed in alternate care, such as a suitable and willing relative or local foster care. A placement near to their familiar surroundings, school and family is preferred. Foster homes provide a neutral and stable environment while the birth parents and children are receiving services to eliminate the need for out of home placement. Door County currently has 12 licensed foster homes.

The Department of Social Services staff provides resources and referrals to services in and outside of our community and provides outreach to families. The Door County Department of Social Services collaborates with an array of community agencies including the Door County Sexual Assault Center, Door County Public Health, Door County Community Programs, Door County Birth to Three Program, Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin, law enforcement, medical, educational and therapeutic professionals.

As concerned community members, we need to take responsibility for the protection and care of our children. Child abuse and neglect can happen in any home, in any neighborhood and within any family. Abused and neglected children often do poorly in school, are more likely to become teen parents, and are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. They are more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults and to suffer chronic health problems. Most children who are abused bear psychological scars, and in some cases, physical scars, forever.

Each year April is designated as the month the nation focuses on what communities around the country can do to help prevent child abuse. Prevention is everybody’s business. Whether you are a parent, a grandparent, a neighbor, a friend, an educator, religious organization, or in the business community, do your part.

For more information about child abuse prevention, to report suspected abuse or neglect, or to inquire about becoming a foster parent, please call the Door County Department of Social Services at 920.746.2300.