Resources available on Suncoast for victims of Child Abuse
SARASOTA COUNTY (WSNN) - Hundreds of kids on the Suncoast have been removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. During Child Abuse Prevention Month, we share some of the resources helping children through this trauma.
"Child abuse is usually a secret," All Star Children’s Foundation Chief Development Officer Stephen Fancher said. "People don’t like to talk about it.”
But organizations like the Safe Children Coalition and All Star Children’s Foundation are making sure to talk about it, providing services for kids in the foster care system.
"Children really are the future of this country," Fancher said. "So what we’re able to do here is to help children who are victims through no faults of their own. So we’re really helping give a voice to children who have no voice.”
According to the Safe Children Coalition, there are more than 1,000 kids in the 12th Judicial Circuit who are in foster care. That includes Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties. SCC’s Senior Director of Prevention and Diversion Service Stacey Schaeffer says are three reasons why.
"The first is substance and alcohol abuse, the second is physical abuse, physical injury and the third is domestic violence," Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer says the signs of abuse are different in every case.
"Anytime there is marked change in behavior, school performance, a child has markings on their or bruises that are unexplained, or even a child becomes withdrawn," Schaeffer said.
COVID-19 had a major impact on the child welfare system. While there were fewer reports during the pandemic, Schaeffer says it was not indicative of children not being abused or neglected.
"Eyes weren’t being laid on these children, so our typical mandated reporters were not actually seeing children and not being told things that children would typically disclose in a classroom, in a classroom session, or even in a doctor’s office," Schaeffer said.
Blue Pinwheels are the national symbol of Child Abuse Prevention.
"Pinwheels symbolize innocence and a brighter future for children, a future that all children deserve," Fancher said.
If you suspect child abuse, you can call 1-800-96-ABUSE.