• 46°

DSS holds balloon release for child abuse prevention

SALISBURY — Clutching a collective 50 balloons, staff and board members of the Rowan County Department of Social Services gathered Tuesday just outside the department’s doors.

The balloons, to be released in observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month, could represent a number of startling Rowan County statistics. The number was just 2.9% of the 1,714 cases of child neglect; 55.6% of 90 physical and emotional abuse cases; and 33.6% of cases of combined abuse and neglect all documented in 2018.

But according to Social Services Director Donna Fayko and program administrator Lisa Berger, the balloons were meant to honor and remember many of the 96 children taken into foster care in the prior year.

“Our goal and mission in the work that we do is to provide safety for children,” said Berger. “We don’t want to be perceived in the community as disrupting families; we’re actually there to assist.”

Assistance meant providing parents and guardians with resources: parenting skills classes, substance abuse treatments and more: “Anything that they may need in order to provide a stable home for their children,” said Berger.

This continued connection to resources is a critical facet to child abuse prevention.

“Child maltreatment occurs when parents find themselves in stressful situations without community resources and (they’re) unable to cope,” said board member Doug Smith, reading a proclamation signed by Rowan County’s Board of Commissioners on April 1. “… The majority of child maltreatment cases stem from situations and conditions that are preventable in an engaged and supportive community.”

Of the 96 children taken into care in 2018, Berger reported that nine were able to reunify with their families. In 32 other cases, custody or guardianship was given to a relative or caretaker.

Twenty-two children found their forever homes through adoption, Berger said, praising the department’s social workers for their efforts to care for Rowan County’s children and families.

Fayko spoke similarly, saying the county could not protect local children without the dedication and hard work of department employees.

Jim Sides, vice chairman of the Social Services board, offered similar thanks in his opening prayer, citing a key factor in their efficacy.

“Many of these (workers) are parents themselves. They understand how important the family unit is,” Sides said.

“It’s the job of us all working together to defend the most vulnerable among us,” he said, paraphrasing a proclamation by President Donald Trump. “Together, we must ensure that children everywhere are treated with dignity and respect and have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in healthy and secure environment.”

Addressing concerns raised by community members, Berger said the balloon release would likely be the last held by the department as it pursues other, more environmentally friendly alternatives for coming observances.

“It’s been a tradition with the balloon release, but we are looking into doing something a little different next year,” she said.

She said the department is exploring the possibility of a butterfly release instead.

Comments

News

Council to discuss potential changes to Downtown Revitalization Incentive grant program

News

Public safety, city manager, economy: Mayoral candidates Alexander, Heggins discuss city’s biggest issues

Elections

Political Notebook: Rowan Democratic Party makes endorsements for municipal races

Local

Spencer looking for big impact from new storefront grants

Granite Quarry

Election 2021: Granite Quarry’s new mayor will be a veteran or a newcomer

Ask Us

Ask Us: If I received my vaccine in another county, is it recorded in Rowan?

Local

Young entrepreneur raises $1,000 for Rowan County United Way with lemonade stand

News

Election 2021: Candidates in East Spencer hoping to continue moving town forward

News

Election 2021: Candidates detail their visions, goals if elected to Salisbury City Council

China Grove

Election 2021: China Grove Town Council candidates detail approaches to handling economic, residential growth

Local

Elect 2021: Four candidates competing for three seats in town of Cleveland

Local

County hopes software will streamline foster home licensing process

Local

Election 2021:Four vie for pair of seats on Granite Quarry board

High School

High school volleyball: Carson tops Mustangs again

News

Judge: No waiting on NC budget to act on school funding

Nation/World

2 more House Democrats retiring, underscoring 2022 obstacles

Crime

Man jailed for shooting at Davie detectives in Rowan County given $560,000 bond

Crime

County Commissioner Craig Pierce pleads guilty to driving while intoxicated

BREAKING NEWS

Overdose call turns into homicide investigation on Ted Lane

Crime

Court judgment requires occupants to vacate Gheen Road home, site of two murders

Crime

Blotter: Oct. 17

Nation/World

Bill Clinton back home after hospitalization from infection

Local

Early voting creeps along as county holds first municipal voting on Sunday

News

5 killed in single-vehicle crash in Raleigh