The ceremonies, representing all 92 Indiana counties, will be held in 83 different locations, possibly making it one of the nation’s largest single-day demonstrations to raise awareness about preventing child abuse. In Allen County, the ceremony is set to be held at Fort Wayne’s Swinney Park, 1600 W. Jefferson Blvd.
DCS is working with child-advocacy groups across the state, and local officials in every community, to unite families, neighbors, professionals and policy makers, in the concerted effort to identify and address the issues that lead to abuse or neglect.
“This is about unity and solidarity in making children a priority,” said new DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura.
By the time children come into the DCS system, they’re already victims of abuse or neglect, said Bonaventura, who spent 30 years on the bench as a judge hearing cases of family crisis. “We need all eyes and ears in the community reporting child abuse and neglect, but equally as important, we need everyone — from families, to extended families, to communities — working together to prevent child abuse.”
Melanie Flory, DCS director in Knox County, says she sees the root-causes everyday of child abuse as she works with families. “Parenting is hard enough,” said Flory. “But when families are also struggling with basic survival needs, like food, shelter and keeping the lights on, it can create stress and hopelessness that escalates into child abuse.”
Children’s Bureau, Inc., understands the realities that can lead to family crises. “Child abuse prevention is a cause that should mobilize our communities to blend our resources, talents and efforts in order to protect vulnerable children,” said Tina Cloer, president and chief executive officer. “There is tremendous work being done to protect our children in the State of Indiana, but there is always opportunity for each of us to do more.”
The Children’s Bureau partners with DCS throughout the year in working to prevent child abuse, and strengthen families.
Governor Mike Pence has proclaimed April Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month in Indiana. The governor will kick off the Marion County ceremony on the south steps of the Indiana State House.
For a list of ceremony locations, visit: www.in.gov/dcs/files/HoosiersUnifyFlyer.pdf