By Tina Bartleson, Executive Director
Exchange Club Family Resource Center
This is the first of four articles posting each Monday in April about Child Abuse Prevention Month authored by representatives from local child abuse prevention agencies. Starting Tuesday, April 3 and then each Monday following during the month of April, join representatives to discuss child abuse prevention on Hometown Headlines Radio Edition on WRGA 98.7 FM and online at wrga.streamon.fm.
April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Agencies involved in the Floyd County Child Abuse Prevention Partnership (the Rome/Floyd County Commission on Children and Youth, Exchange Club Family Resource Center, Hospitality House, Harbor House, Floyd Health Department, DFCS, and many more) join together with committed volunteers and the Exchange Club of Rome to highlight local issues faced by Floyd County and to offer a message of hope—-Child Abuse is Preventable.
Child abuse often results from a lack of information, lack of resources, and/or lack of support to families. When families become overwhelmed, the risk of abuse and neglect is high….and the cost of abuse and neglect is even higher. Child abuse and neglect carries huge emotional and physical costs for children. It leads to trauma, can hinder development and school performance, and impacts the way children view themselves. Studies show that children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to experience chronic health issues, to abuse drugs/alcohol, and even have work productivity impacted years down the road. Aside from the long-term impacts, child abuse and neglect impacts their quality of life and safety today. From a humanitarian perspective, this is not acceptable.
In addition to the human costs, we can and should look at the financial costs of child abuse. The long-term health problems, trauma, and behavioral consequences carry a price tag. According to Prevent Child Abuse America, direct (i.e. law enforcement intervention, foster care and mental health care) plus indirect costs (i.e. additional education services, criminal justice impacts) has a national price tag in the billions.
To bring it home, the cost of placing only one child in a foster home in Rome for one year has a price tag of $9,220-$10,800. That doesn’t include other expenses associated with caring for a child in foster care—-medical care, cost of employing DFCS case workers, clothing, court costs, mental health care, and additional services that may be needed. When children must be placed in specialized care or treatment services, the price tag is far higher—$30,000-$50,000 per year per child.
Contrast that to the cost of child abuse prevention. Locally, the Exchange Club Family Resource Center can provide one year of in-home parent education and life skills training to an entire family for only $3,000 per year. That cost includes weekly in-home visits as well as phone support between home visits as families learn the skills they need to address challenges that place children at risk. These skills increase safety for the children today…and have long-term impact as well. Other agencies in our Child Abuse Prevention Partnership (e.g. Harbor House, Hospitality House, and other agencies) also provide prevention education services that are cost-effective. Prevention makes sense because it helps keep families intact, provides skills that impact the quality of children’s lives today, and has positive impact on their growth in the future.
Details on activities planned for Child Abuse Prevention Month can be found here.
For questions about child abuse prevention month activities or to learn more about how you can make a difference, call Tina Bartleson, Director of the Exchange Club Family Resource Center (706-290-0764; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Dr. Carol Willis, Director of the Rome/Floyd Commission on Children & Youth (706-766-8880)