On April 8 at 7:30 p.m., communities across the state will gather together simultaneously for “Pinwheels for Prevention” ceremonies marking the need to prevent child abuse in Indiana.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and in Kosciusko County a special ceremony will take place at the Kosciusko County courthouse.
Statewide, Department of Child Services is working with local Prevent Child Abuse Indiana councils, Court Appointed Special Advocates as well as other child advocacy groups and local officials, to unite families, neighbors, professionals and policymakers in the concerted effort to identify and address the issues that lead to abuse or neglect.
“This is about unity and solidarity in making children a priority,” said Erin Shidler, Kosciusko County director, Indiana DCS.
By the time children come into the DCS system, they’re already victims of abuse or neglect, said Shidler. “We need all eyes and ears in the community reporting child abuse and neglect, but equally important, we need everyone – from families and extended families to neighbors and friends – working together to prevent child abuse.”
Mackenzie Cloutier, CASA executive director, says their organization sees the root causes everyday of child abuse as CASA works with families.
“Parenting is hard enough,” said Cloutier, “but when families are also struggling with basic survival needs like food, shelter and keeping the lights on, it can create stress and hopelessness that escalates into child abuse.”
DCS, child advocacy groups and local government officials understand the realities that can lead to family crises.
“Child abuse prevention is a cause that should mobilize our communities to blend our resources, talents and efforts in order to protect vulnerable children,” said Shidler. “There is tremendous work being done to protect our children in the State of Indiana, but there is always opportunity for each of us to do more.”
There are currently 61 children in Kosciusko County being served by DCS. On April 8, a special Pinwheels for Prevention garden will be planted on the front lawn of the Kosciusko County Courthouse. At 7:30 p.m., a short ceremony will highlight the importance of child abuse prevention efforts in the county. Attorney David Cates, Baker Youth Club Executive Director Tracy Furnival, Valley Springs Fellowship Pastor Kent Deninger, CASA and DCS will make short remarks. Winona Lake Grace Brethren Children’s Choir will sing.
Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed April as Prevent Child Abuse Awareness Month in Indiana. The governor will kick off the Marion County ceremony at the Indiana State House.