(Posted April 3, 2019)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
By nature, Madison County Children’s Services is a reactive agency, responding to calls of child abuse and neglect and doing what’s necessary to help children and families in these situations.
But for one month out of the year, the department pulls double-duty, keeping up their usual duties while at the same time putting forth a proactive effort. That month is April, Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, and the department’s prime awareness event is a carnival open to all families.
“This is our sixth year for the carnival,” said Julie Harris, Children’s Services supervisor. “It has grown every year… We are getting 500 people coming out for it. It’s free, and I really think everybody enjoys it.”
This year’s carnival will take place on April 12 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Coughlin Automotive Community Center at the Madison County Fairgrounds, 205 Elm St., London. Popcorn, snow cones, hot dogs, chips, drinks, games, prizes, face painting, a photo booth, balloon animals and vendors are planned.
As April chairperson for the Ohio Children’s Trust Fund’s central region, Harris has brought additional awareness initiatives to Madison County this year, including implementation of positive parenting classes, distribution of promotional t-shirts and posters, and awareness advertising on pizza delivery boxes.
The department also is hosting free family movie nights:
- April 5 at 7:30 p.m.–Watch “Sherlock Gnomes” at the West Jefferson Community Center, 230 Cemetery Rd. Sponsors The X-Terminator and Mike Conway will provide popcorn and drinks.
- April 6 at 2 p.m.–Watch “Ralph Breaks the Internet” at the Mount Sterling Community Center, 164 E. Main St. Sponsors Jay-Car Construction and WillowWood will provide popcorn and drinks.
- April 19 at 7 p.m.–Watch “Ralph Breaks the Internet” at DNA Community Center, 340 W. Main St., Plain City. Sponsor Yutzy’s Farm Market will provide popcorn and drinks.
Each year, the department also secures a proclamation from the Madison County commissioners declaring April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. The commissioner signed the 2019 proclamation on April 2. That same day, Children’s Services staff members “planted” 907 blue pinwheels on the county courthouse lawn in London. Each pinwheel represents a call made to the department to report child abuse or neglect in 2018.
Harris reported that Madison County’s department is the only one in its 13-county region to achieve 100 percent compliance on visiting a child’s home within 24 hours of receiving a report of abuse or neglect. The county also excels in its ongoing efforts to help those children, achieving 99 percent compliance.
“Every person here, I can say their heart is in it to protect kids,” Harris said of her co-workers.
County Commissioner David Hunter thanked the Children’s Services department for the work they do. Commissioner Mark Forrest thanked all the individuals who call in with concerns about children’s welfare.
“They are the eyes out there that help you do what you do,” he said.
For more information about the Child Abuse Prevention Carnival, the services Children’s Services provides, or to report possible child abuse or neglect, call (740) 852-4770.
To learn more about becoming a foster parent, call The Buckeye Ranch, which works in partnership with Children’s Services, at 1-800-296-5113.