Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Child Abuse is up in Greene County

We are facing a child abuse & foster care crisis in Greene County, MO. This issue has been on our community radar for several years, but we've seen some significant increases recently.

In 2009, there were an average of 780 children in foster care from Greene County. In 2010, that jumped 12% to 874 children on average. Now as of May 2011, we were well over 1,000 children in foster care from Greene County.

Additionally, in 2009 there were an average of 25 children placed into foster care from Greene County EACH MONTH. That jumped to 42 children per month in 2010. We are seeing significant increases in the need for our programs here at Ambassadors for Children as well.

What Can we Do?

  • Get Involved
  • Support our local Child Protective Services staff
  • Raise Awareness at your church, office and within your own family
  • Make sure our kids & young adults are equipped with effective coping skills so they can manage their emotions when they become adults
  • Become a Foster or Adoptive parent
  • Always Hotline suspected abuse or neglect: 1-800-392-3738
Get Involved
Volunteer or donate to an organization that helps prevent child abuse/neglect such as Isabel's House, Parenting Life Skills Center or even Pregnancy Care Center. To take care of our local abused kids, volunteer or donate to Ambassadors for Children (AFC). We focus on providing resources to fulfill needs for local foster children in order to improve their self-esteem and alleviate financial stress for foster parents--which also helps with foster parent recruitment and retention.

AFC provides brand new clothing, free 1-1 tutoring, hygiene items, new coats, shoes, sports registrations, graduation expenses, eye glasses, contacts and MUCH more for these kids. We are supported 100% by donations/volunteers and have served over 4,500 foster children since 1999.

Support Local Child Protective Services Staff
These folks work very hard and are exposed to gut wrenching stories of abuse & neglect daily. They need our community support and are doing the best they can--especially facing these increases. It's better to be too careful than too careless when it comes to child safety!

Adopt-a-Caseworker through Ambassadors for Children. The first program of its kind in Missouri, this program will match you with a local Caseworker & you get to fulfill unmet needs for the kids & families as they are presented to you. It's individualized & highly rewarding. The Caseworkers love it & so do their clients. We have approx. 24 local workers still waiting to be adopted. This program has served almost 1,000 children since March 2009!

Raise Awareness
People need to know about this issue & that THEY ARE NEEDED! This problem will not go away on its own. Churches, businesses & individuals need to step up (and many have done so already). Have Ambassadors for Children make a presentation to your group. Publish something in your church bulletin. Post something on your business website or intranet. Do a clothing collection for foster kids. Collect a donation among your group. Adopt-a-Caseworker or Adopt-a-Teenager in foster care for Christmas.

Equip Coping Skills

If folks know how to cope with their emotions (specifically stress) in appropriate ways, they may be less likely to lash out on children when faces with life stressors such as poverty. Encourage others to believe the best of themselves, help lead them to a place to learn more about spiritual fulfillment if they so choose. Help abuse survivors realize they have the power to break their family cycle of abuse/neglect.

Become a Foster or Adoptive Parent
We desperately need YOU. These kids need a safe place to stay while their parents work through issues to hopefully get their kids returned (if safe). These kids need adults willing to accept them into their family temporarily or permanently if their parents are unable to get them back. Every Child Deserves a Safe and Loving Home. Contact the Greene County Children's Division, Lutheran Family Children's Services or Missouri Baptist Children's Home for more information on becoming a foster or adoptive parent today!

When in doubt, make the call anyway. A child's life may be at stake. Greene County, MO has had the highest number of mandated reporter hotline calls in Missouri. My theory is this is partly due to educating our community on the importance of the hotline.

Ambassadors for Children
417-862-3586 ext. 236

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