National Child Abuse Prevention Month was highlighted at the regular meeting of the Board of El Paso County Commissioners on Tuesday. It serves as a critical reminder of how everyone plays a role in preventing child abuse and neglect.
“Communities are a key influence in families’ lives, just like a plant is more likely to thrive in a garden with good soil and plenty of sunlight and water, families are more likely to thrive in nurturing communities,” Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Cami Bremer said as she read the Proclamation into the record. “Every day, we can help positive childhood experiences take root by working together to cultivate relationships, connections, and environments that help every child thrive.”
More than 20,500 hotline calls were received in 2020 by the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS), which provides oversight and protective services. That is a noticeable drop from calls in 2019.
“I would like to acknowledge El Paso County DHS staff who continued to provide essential services throughout the entire pandemic,” said Julie Krow, DHS executive director. “We work closely with community partners to keep children safe and find ways to strengthen families. We also depend on the community and mandatory reporters to call in reports when they have concerns.”
Jill Calvert, DHS Director of Children, Youth and Family Services, thanked community partners, law enforcement and others for their critical efforts.
“Children are our most valuable asset, and caring for them is vitally important,” said Commissioner Longinos Gonzalez, Jr.
“It is so important that every child thrive,” Board of County Commissioners Chair Stan VanderWerf said, adding that resources are available to help struggling families through their own support systems, DHS programs and community organizations.
El Paso County DHS staff planted about 200 pinwheels in front of Centennial Hall in downtown Colorado Springs. Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel in 2008 as the national symbol for child abuse prevention through Pinwheels for Prevention. The pinwheels serve as symbols of the happy, playful childhoods desired for all children. This year, Illuminate Colorado gave away 40,000 pinwheels to be displayed across the state. Nonprofits, individuals, and businesses across the region will proudly display pinwheels this month.
Commissioner Carrie Geitner thanked caseworkers: “I appreciate the thoughtfulness of doing everything we can to support families so they can stay together, but also looking out for the well-being of children.”
The statewide hotline to call in concerns about of child abuse and neglect is 1-844-CO-4-Kids. The line is always open. For anyone seeking more information about how to support families, visit https://www.co4kids.org/ for resources.