Everyone plays a role in preventing child abuse and neglect. National Child Abuse Prevention Month was highlighted at the regular meeting of the Board of El Paso County Commissioners on Tuesday.
“Finding solutions for child abuse and neglect – a serious problem affecting every segment of our community – requires input and action from everyone because the well-being of our children today will shape the future of Colorado and our community,” Board of County Commissioners Vice-Chair Cami Bremer said as she read the Proclamation into the record. “All parents and caregivers need support sometimes, and supporting all children and families early is far less costly to society and individuals than healing from trauma.”
More than 20,873 hotline calls were received in 2021 by the El Paso County Department of Human Services (DHS), which provides oversight and protective services. That is still a decrease from calls in 2019, and barely an increase from 2020. Stacie Kwitek, DHS Executive Director, thanked community partners, law enforcement and many others for their critical efforts.
“Child safety is a cornerstone to a strong community, and one that El Paso County has embraced,” she said. “I want to thank our DHS Children, Youth and Family Services staff. These individuals eat, sleep, and breathe child safety. Depending on the day, the work can be joyous, challenging, and I’m afraid heartbreaking, and sometimes all in the same day. They find themselves in dangerous situations all for the safety of the most vulnerable in our community.”
She also recognized the important work from other divisions of DHS. Staff from Economic Assistance and other teams help connect families to supports and services that are part of the work to strengthen families, and thus help prevent child abuse and neglect.
“When families are strong, so many other problems are solved,” Board of County Commissioners Chair Stan VanderWerf said.
The statewide hotline to call in concerns about of child abuse and neglect is 1-844-CO-4-Kids. The line is always open. For anyone seeking more information about how to support families, visit https://www.co4kids.org/ for resources.
“Kids are the future and the joy of our community,” said Commissioner Carrie Geitner. “These parents need support and they need help.”