Pinwheel displays raise awareness during Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 3:33 PM CDT
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Volunteers across the area went to work Thursday, creating visual displays for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention month. This comes at a time when, in Outagamie County, reports of abuse have gone up.

Pinwheels are a national symbol for child abuse prevention. Each one placed outside Harbor House in Appleton represents the 803 families Outagamie County Children Youth and Families served last year.

“So this is a visual display to kick off the month and to bring awareness about child abuse and neglect in our community,” said Outagamie County Foster Care Supervisor Jennifer Sailer.

This Child Abuse and Neglect Awareness Month comes after 2020 presented unique challenges for child protection services.

“Our concern as child protection professionals was the drastic cut in the number in our reports,” said Outagamie County Children Youth and Families Manager Melissa Blom.

Blom says from the start of the pandemic in March into July they had a 40% reduction in number of reports.

“I can say though in the last quarter of the year and this quarter, we’ve received more reports than we did in the last ten years, in terms of comparing month to month,” said Blom.

She in part credits the fact that schools are back in-person.

“Teachers are our number one reporters, and so for kids to actually be in school and be seen and to have concerns reported to us so that we can assess is a very important thing in our community,” said Blom.

The Pinwheel Prevention Campaign isn’t just about getting people to report, it’s an attempt to connect people with resources before abuse or neglect begins.

“I think it’s so important to highlight what the community can do. There’s a lot of organizations. 211 has partnered with us and they’ll have additional information on resources within our community, how people can support their neighbors and family and friends to prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Sailer. “It’s here in our community but we want to do everything we can to help and support families to prevent that from happening so kids can stay safe, home with their families.”

“We partner with lots of aid organizations. Family Services is another major influencer in our community. They run parent connection and we work with them to help first time moms from the hospital. We work with Harbor House to help families,” said Blom. “We work with the System Review Panel, which is made up of all kinds of people from our community, to make sure what we need we get in terms of supporting our child welfare staff.”

Blom says they also have a Community Connections program to work with families that may be struggling with resources to help provide basic necessities.

If you believe a child in Outagamie County is in an abusive or negligent situation, contact the Children Youth and Families Department at 920-832-5161 during business hours.

“Don’t assume somebody else is going to do it. If you’re hearing something, say something,” said Salier.

You can learn more about the department HERE.

People can also contact 2-1-1 to learn more about their local community resources.

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