Task force won’t have annual meetings
By Josh Bergeron
After years of annual meetings, Rowan County’s Child Abuse Prevention Task Force will temporarily cease to have standalone meetings.
The group, organized in the late 1990s after the deaths of four children because of abuse, will instead be folded into Rowan’s Community Child Protection Team, which meets every other month.
Meeting Wednesday for its annual meeting, occurring during Child Abuse Prevention Month, the task force agreed to temporarily stop having its own meetings. Social Services Director Donna Fayko suggested the board only meet if agencies involved in child abuse prevention weren’t working together properly. Sheriff Kevin Auten also suggested including Kannapolis City School in a document that sets guidelines for cooperation among agencies in child abuse cases.
Reasoning for the meeting change included the Community Child Protection Team meeting more frequently and the fact that many of the task force’s members also attend the protection team’s meeting.
The cause of the task force’s formation was four children who died in 1997 to abuse. The children were in the social service system. The task force’s history states early meetings quickly revealed a lack of communication between agencies involved in the social services system.
“(Social Services) was a pretty closed operation, you didn’t question them,” Chamberlain said.
Multiple attendees of the Wednesday meeting cited increased cooperation as a reason for the suspension of independent task force meetings.
“I think that a huge acknowledgment needs to be given to commissioners for bringing this to bear back in the 1990s because it’s been very successful,” Fayko said. “We now have a fully accredited child advocacy center, which is huge for our community. So, I just think that we’ve probably outgrown it as a standalone task force, but I do think its part of the tapestry of our community and the protection of children. And, that’s what it should be.”
Multiple attendees of the task force meeting said others look to Rowan for its top-notch community organization in addressing child abuse cases.
The task force also reviewed its community protocol for cases related to abuse and neglect during the Wednesday meeting. Because Kannapolis is split between Rowan and Cabarrus counties, Auten suggested including Kannapolis City Schools in the protocol, as children who attend schools in Kannapolis may live in Rowan County.
Presently, the Rowan County Department of Social Services receives on average about 200 referrals per month for cases related to child abuse, according to Rebecca Smith, the Children’s Services Program Administrator for Social Services. Smith said. There’s about 130 children currently in Social Services’ foster care program.
“It important to educate our community about the fact that abuse and neglect does occur, and it’s the community that has the power to impact that,” Smith said.
Methods Smith mentioned of the community involved include reporting instances of child abuse and becoming foster parents.
Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246
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