On Apr. 1, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors commenced Child Abuse Prevention Month with Yolo County’s participation in the statewide campaign against child abuse.
Prevent Child Abuse California’s “It Only Takes a Minute – to Make a Difference in a Child’s Life” campaign aims to raise awareness about child abuse in the Yolo County area.
Child abuse, including neglect, is the third highest issue statewide behind education and health care, said Danielle Mole, program manager for Legislative Affairs at Prevent Child Abuse California.
“The point of this is to raise awareness of child abuse issues at each county level,” Mole said.
First 5 Yolo is a sponsor of “It Only Takes a Minute.” Statewide polling results from their 2007 Community Needs Assessment report found child abuse is a high priority issue, but few know how they can help. Child abuse was closely related to parents who were substance abusers and involved in the welfare system.
“Eighty to 85 percent of children who had moved from the home for abuse or neglect were children who were from parents with substance abuse problems,” said Julie Gallelo, executive director of First 5 Yolo.
Major disadvantages of being a foster parent are that child care is not covered, and Yolo County does not have enough foster parents. Children often get sent out of the county, which presents difficulty in visitation rights with parents, Gallelo said.
Yolo County’s child abuse situation is worse than California’s as a whole, she added.
According to the Yolo County Children’s Alliance and Child Abuse Prevention Council Fact Sheet, Yolo County has the same proportional rate of reports for child abuse cases as the whole of California. In comparison to California, which had 109,463 (11.4 percent) substantiated cases in 2006, Yolo County reported 599 substantiated cases (12.5 percent). In addition, of those substantiated cases in Yolo County, 40.7 percent reenter the child welfare system, whereas the reentry rate for California is 32.9 percent.
“As adults, we are always so busy, and children just want a moment to show us a picture they’ve drawn or to speak to them in a calm voice. We are so stressed, and it comes out when we talk to children,” said Lori Aldrete, from ACS Quantum, the public relations firm for the campaign. “The point of the campaign is to put that message out there – if you are taking care of a child, it just takes a minute to encourage them. That feedback from an adult makes them feel good about themselves and valued in our lives.”
Events throughout April will promote child abuse prevention, including Wednesday’s Kids Day at the West Steps of the Capitol building.
The theme was “father involvement,” and the event featured speakers, interactive activities for children, a van with free immunization for children, vans teaching kids about dental hygiene and booths providing information for parents, Mole said.
“One of the good things about the campaign this year is that it has a positive focus. It does get you in the gut and the heart,” Gallelo said. “We focus in on parenting aspects. It only takes a minute to praise your child, help your child or look your child in the eye. That really forms a bond between parents and children and prevents abuse and neglect.”
Events include Día de los Niños on Apr.25 from 3 to 7 p.m. at Fern’s Park in Woodland. For more information, call 666-8227.
Apr. 26 is Winters Youth Day, featuring a rotary pancake breakfast, street fair and parade. For more information, call 795-2329. The Yolo County Child Development Conference is also Apr. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Center in Davis. Call 757-5695 for more information.
POOJA KUMAR can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.