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Social Workers Want To Prevent Child Abuse Before It Happens

Updated: 04/15/2014 10:40 PM
Created: 04/15/2014 4:06 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Social workers for Saint Louis County were reaching out during Child Abuse Prevention Month. They gave board members a breakdown of what they deal with during a workshop.

"We can highlight the practice that social workers do every day," Social Service Supervisor Mark Wilhelmson said. "I don't think most people understand the scope of the problem."

Wilhelmson said his department received more than 1,300 reports of child abuse and neglect last year. He said 30 to 40 percent of the reports were impacted by drug and alcohol use.

"We do not want any child in Saint Louis County to be abused or neglected," Public Health and Human Services Director Ann Busche said. "We want all of our children to be safe and healthy."

Busche said that means taking action before abuse takes place.

"While we have to respond to suspect abuse and neglect, our real goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect," Busche said.

She said a new Parent Support Outreach program will help do that. They launched it in September 2013.

"The idea is to look at families where they are high risk for child abuse and neglect, but to provide service prior to anything like that happening," Busche said.

High-risk parents usually have substance abuse problems, mental illness or are involved in domestic violence.

During the presentation, a video was also shown from the point of view of a child being put in foster care. Busche said that scenario is not ideal. She said they would rather see children at home with their families.

"We believe families need to raise children," Busche said. "Government should not be raising children."

"We really have to support these people to be better parents," Wilhelmson said.

Wilhelmson said there is a heroin epidemic right now in the Northland. He said that problem not only hurts people, but families.

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