by Jacqueline Fletcher, Interim Director, Division of Children and Family Services
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time when child advocates across the nation focus on ways to prevent abuse and neglect, recognizing the importance of strong families and communities working together to keep children safe.
The Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) takes a 3-pillar approach to child welfare. Those three pillars are safety, permanency, and well-being. Safety is our top priority. We want to ensure first and foremost that children are protected from abuse and neglect. Children should be safe at home with their family whenever possible and appropriate. For well-being we want families to have the capacity to provide for their children’s needs. That includes the family’s economic conditions, the child’s physical and mental health, social, emotional, and educational needs. Lastly, it’s important all children have permanency and stability in their living arrangements. Life-long loving and nurturing families are essential for all children.
Last year we received more than 35,000 calls to our hotline, that’s an average of nearly 100 calls a day. Of those we screened in approximately 13,000 for investigation. Once that happens, we send out trained child protection specialists who assess safety, risk, and the families’ needs. We can offer various forms of support and intervention such as therapy, community resources, help with mental health and addiction issues, etc.
We have an amazing and dedicated workforce that works tirelessly around the clock to help us ensure safety, permanency, and well-being, but we cannot do it alone. DCFS is asking families, friends, neighbors, and professional to be a hero to a child. There are many ways you can be a #CuyahogaHero; by simply helping a struggling parent or family so they can parent safely, reporting suspected cases of abuse or neglect, and donating or volunteering with a local organization that helps children and families. If you’re game for an even bigger commitment, you can join the team and work for DCFS or become a foster parent.
Everyone can have a role helping keep children safe. Please help us prevent child abuse and neglect.