Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
Salisbury Post
The Rowan County Board of Social Services gave a unanimous thumbs-up Tuesday night to a community round-table discussion on the well being of children.
“It’s a wonderful idea,” said board member Lillian Morgan after Tom Brewer, program administrator for children’s services for the department, presented the idea.
“Good job,” said board member John Blair.
Rowan County commissioners also responded positively to the idea when it was presented as part of the county’s Community Child Protection Team Annual Report at their Jan. 7 meeting.
Brewer said a countywide media campaign ó which would hopefully include newspaper articles and radio public service announcements ó would be held before the May 30 round-table to get the community thinking about the well being of children.
Proposed topics to be addressed in the 3 to 5 p.m. round-table include health/child maltreatment, economic security, education, legal/juvenile issues and family. Brewer said he and Social Services Director Sandra Wilkes would seek people with expertise on each topic for a panel discussion.
Preliminary plans calls for the round-table to be held at Rowan Public Library.
As part of the program, Brewer said those in attendance would be informed of child protection laws, privacy and practice, new initiatives, how to make a child protective services report and how the Department of Social Services responds to reports.
Child Protection Teams in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties are required to make an annual report on their review of child welfare cases for that year. Cases are submitted from various agencies for review, including social services and health departments, the schools and law enforcement groups.
A statewide report is compiled based on the information from all the counties, Brewer said, and recommendations are made on improving the welfare of children. One of the issues raised by the state in its most recent report, he said, is the need for communities to get more involved in the well being of children.
The state report also ranked counties in issues facing children. Rowan County, for example, ranked higher than the state average in teen pregnancies, Brewer said, with 72.5 percent. The state average is 63 percent.
Brewer said he and Wilkes would present a draft of plans for the round-table at the board’s March meeting.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249 or kchaffin@salisburypost.com.

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