TOPEKA – Governor Jeff Colyer, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel, Kansas Children Service League (KCSL) President Dona Booe, DCF Social Worker Tina Westbay and children from the Adventures in Early Learning Center participated in a “Pinwheels for Prevention” event today, at the State Capitol Building, Topeka. The event highlighted the dedication of Kansas social workers and emphasized a community-based approach to preventing child abuse.
Common indicators of child abuse include unexplainable bruises, welts, bite marks, burns or other injuries; head trauma; fractures; being frightened of a parent/caretaker; demonstrating behavioral extremes, demonstrating disorganized thinking, self-injuries; running away from home; and verbally reporting abuse.
“Planting pinwheels with these kids here today serves as a representation that every child deserves a happy, loving home,” said Governor Colyer. “But it also reminds us that we must keep moving forward, purposefully taking action to prevent these tragedies. We recently took another step in the right direction, as I signed a bill that requires EMS workers to also become mandated reporters.”
The Governor signed a proclamation to designate April as Child Abuse Prevention Month
“Child abuse is an unfortunate reality in Kansas, and it is a tragedy that is often exacerbated by drug abuse,” said Attorney General Derek Schmidt. “Together, we must address this issue head-on, especially when it impacts the young children in our state. I am grateful that Governor Colyer has assembled a task force dedicated to looking at solutions to solve opioid and other drug-related issues in Kansas.”
In Kansas, DCF received more than 67,000 reports of child abuse and/or neglect in FY 2017, and 584 children were removed from their home because of physical abuse as the primary reason for removal.
“If you see something, say something,” Secretary Gina Meier-Hummel said. “Whether we are a social worker, policeman, nurse, teacher, neighbor or friend, we all have a responsibility to report suspected abuse. Together, we can make a difference in preventing horrific tragedies from occurring.”
DCF Child Protection Specialist Tina Westbay also addressed the audience about her experience with child abuse as a social worker.
“We are here to help. We have a passion to protect children. It’s why we come to work every day,” said Westbay. “And until our state is free from child abuse, we will continue to do this work with diligence.”
To report suspected child abuse or neglect, contact the Kansas Protection Report Center (KPRC) at 1-800-922-5330. Every call is taken seriously and telephone lines are staffed 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency, contact local law enforcement or call 911. To learn about other services offered to Kansas children and families, visit www.dcf.ks.gov. Additionally, KCSL has a free, statewide, anonymous parent helpline. Trained individuals work the hotline 24-hours a day to listen, offer support, answer questions and provide advice to help caretakers deal with the stress of parenthood. If you would like to contact the helpline, call 1-800-CHILDREN.