Creating happy and healthy childhoods

Last updated: 05-06-2020

Read original article here

Creating happy and healthy childhoods

Children observe and absorb much of their surroundings. Negative statements, abuse and neglect can all result in a childhood that is less than ideal. In recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month, the News-Republican talks with experts in the community who offer services that make childhood and parenthood happier and healthier.

Boone County C.A.R.E.S. (Child Abuse Resource and Educational Services) formed in 1983 when several concerned members of the community saw a need to provide resources to prevent child abuse in the county and inform the public about proper ways of handling the tough parts of being a parent. In 2016, it merged with the Story County branch to form Boone and Story County C.A.R.E.S.

“I know the big worry is that child abuse isn’t being reported. We know from past history, when families are under stress, typically what happens, is the child abuse incidents rise. We think it’s still there, but we don’t have the proof right now,” administrative assistant JoAnn Hanson said.

Headquartered at 900 W. Mamie Eisenhower Ave., this non-profit agency contracts with Lutheran Services in Iowa (LSI) to offer parenting education programs for Boone and Story counties. Due to COVID-19, group-based programs are temporarily on hold.

“When we need it the most, we can’t get it, but they are doing online resources with articles and videos, to give [participants] things to do while they’re stuck at home,” Hanson said.

YSS in Boone County, 105 S. Marshall St., Suite B, offers individual and family therapy, including specialized therapy such as play therapy, parent child interaction therapy (PCIT) and Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS), as well as medication management and a variety of prevention programs meant to support children and their families.

“We have served more than 300 Boone County clients this past year and have seen substantial growth every year for the past three years,” YSS Boone County coordinator Jeannette Flynn said.

Signs of child abuse aren’t always obvious. Flynn said abuse could take on many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, medical and neglect.

“In many cases, child abuse is done by someone the child knows and trusts, often a parent or other relative. A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend,” Flynn said. “Red flags of abuse can include drastic or unexplained changes in behavior, withdrawn behavior from friends and family and unexplained injuries.”

The Family Nest, run by YSS, is a free community-based program that encourages healthy behaviors during pregnancy and a child’s infancy by providing education and incentives. Participants earn points by participating in positive health activities, including prenatal care appointments, prenatal education classes and local health and safety education classes. As points accumulate, participants get the chance to shop at the Family Nest store for strollers, clothes, diapers, cribs and more. The store is located at First United Methodist Church, 703 Arden St.

Who is eligible:Pregnant women and families with children under the age of 2Residents of Boone County (proof of address needed)Meet income guidelines (200 percent federal poverty level or below)

“The second and fourth Thursday of each month, from 6-7:30 p.m., they meet and have a meal and childcare is provided,” its new coordinator Sadie Bohr said. “After the class, they can shop.”

Unfortunately, these meetings have been interrupted by COVID-19. Bohr said educational videos have been posted on Facebook, which when viewed, earn participants points.

She may be reached at sbohr@yss.org and (515) 291-4206.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS) 2018 Child Welfare By the Numbers report, 8,967 children were subject to abuse or neglect.

Of all child abuse or neglect:47% of abused or neglected children were age 5 or younger55% was neglect (denial of critical care)7% was physical4% was sexual8% was presence of illegal drugs in body25% dangerous substance (caregiver unlawfully used, possessed, manufactured, cultivated or distributed a dangerous substance in a child’s home, on the premises or in a motor vehicle located on the premises)

Boone and Story County C.A.R.E.S. holds monthly meetings open to the public the fourth Tuesday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at its 900 W. Mamie. Ave. office. All are welcome.

To honor Child Abuse Prevention Month, it planned on distributing car hang tags at local businesses, containing conversation starter ideas for parents, as well as positive sayings. Hanson said she hopes to hand these out eventually.

It will hold its next Chair-ity Auction in April 2021. This popular fundraiser auctions off decorated chairs and related furnishings. Since the office is not open full-time, the best way to reach Hanson is by email: booneandstorycountycares@outlook.com or phone: (515) 433-4893. Please leave a message.

YSS CEO Andrew Allen did a Facebook Live town hall style meeting to discuss child abuse. You can find his discussion on YSS’s Facebook page. YSS has started a Let’s Talk Facebook Live Series every Thursday at 7 p.m. with presenters talking about real topics and answering viewer questions.

YSS of Boone County, whose office is temporarily closed, may be contacted at (515) 433-2091. Flynn may be reached at jflynn@yss.org.

To learn more about available resources during COVID-19, visit Prevent Child Abuse Iowa’s website at: pcaiowa.org/covid-19-support-resources


Read the rest of this article here