This month is Child Abuse Prevention month, and local agencies are using social media to spread awareness of the issue in the Rome-Floyd community.
Tina Bartleson, executive director of the Exchange Club Family Resource Center, said Child Protective Services looked at over 1,900 cases of reported abuse in 2019 in Floyd County.
They screened out over 700 but investigated more than 600.
While the center no longer gets a report on the number of confirmed cases of abuse and neglect each year, Bartleson said the number of investigations highlights the risk in the community.
She said the agency also refers some families to the Georgia Division of Child and Family Services’ Family Support Unit even if their cases didn’t meet the abuse criteria. DFCS can connect the families to resources they might need to prevent escalation.
The nonprofit Family Resource Center is dedicated to helping families grow and decrease domestic violence in the area.
Traditionally, the center hosts a Placement of the Pinwheels event in April, with each pinwheel representing a confirmed case of abuse or neglect. Bartleson said they’ve had to cancel it due to the coronavirus outbreak — for the first time in over 20 years.
Instead they’ve been utilizing social media platforms to continue spreading awareness.
People can participate by dressing up in blue for Blue Mondays, which is every Monday of the month of April. Bartleson also said that people can show support by decorating their front door or house in blue.
This year, a statewide order for people to shelter in place has created an increase in general stress in households all around the country, Bartleson said. As families start feeling overwhelmed, the risk for abuse increases as well.
To prevent this, they have been connecting with all of the families they work with — to make sure that they’re doing well and see if they need anything, such as groceries and cleaning supplies.
“Traditionally, our model is a home visitation model, but obviously we can’t do that right now,” Bartleson said. “We’re relying a lot on video chat and phone calls to maintain connection to families we serve.”
The director said that it has been working very well for the organization and the families so far.
“We’ve seen a really high engagement rate with our families and folks are really just appreciative of the support.”