Riverside County officials, child advocates highlight Child Abuse Prevention Month with flag-raising ceremony
Riverside County officials along with children’s advocates welcomed Child Abuse Prevention Month on Tuesday with a flag-raising ceremony to raise awareness of the young lives lost as a result of violence, abuse and neglect, the county announced
The ceremony was held at the Riverside County Administrative Center, located at 4080 Lemon St. in Riverside.
Featured speakers were Supervisors Karen Spiegel and Yxstian Gutierrez, Chief Assistant District Attorney John Aki, Undersheriff Donald Sharp, County Executive Officer Jeff Van Wagenen, Riverside County Department of Public Social Services Director Charity Douglas and Dr. Carla Lidner Baum, Chair of the HOPE Collaborative Board of Directors.
Members of the Riverside-based Family Service Association also attended the event.
“One of the main priorities of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is to ensure our child protective services’ approach is responsive to the complex needs of abused and neglected children,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel said in a statement released prior to the ceremony. “This flag raising event will highlight the comprehensive continuum of care that is employed once suspected abuse is identified. There is nothing more important than protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”
One in four kids endures abuse or neglect in their lifetime, according to the California Welfare Indicators Project 2022. Abuse manifests in many forms, including physical or emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect, and technology advancements have made it easier for predators to prey on children.
In 2021 Riverside County had 37,399 reports of alleged child abuse with 5,805 substantiated, according to the Welfare Indicators Project.
“While there are no substitutes for loving parents and guardians, community partners play an important role in keeping children safe,” according to the county’s event announcement. “It takes a collective effort and strong partnerships in the public and private sector to stop child abuse from occurring and intervening when a case of suspected abuse arises.”
Dozens of representatives from child welfare organizations, schools, law enforcement, probation, medical facilities, children’s advocates and local faith-based entities meet each month to share ideas on improving the region’s safety and wellbeing, according to the county. The HOPE Collaborative organizes these monthly meetings in each supervisorial district and engages business professionals, parents and volunteers.
Dr. Carla Lidner Baum, HOPE Collaborative’s board chair, said in a statement, “Riverside County works extensively to prevent child abuse and to provide a strong continuum of care that protects our children once potential abuse is reported. From the initial investigations performed by our social workers and deputies, to the legal work and advocacy that occurs to support victims, once our District Attorney’s team is involved, our County provides comprehensive care to children and families. But they can’t do it alone.
“We need the community’s help to protect the heart and minds of all children — the next generation’s leaders,” Lidner Baum continued. “Nonprofits, educational leaders, neighbors, faith leaders and foster parents all play an important role in strengthening our children.”
The flag-raising event aimed to “display the robust systems of support and resources that exist to prevent child abuse,” according to the county. A wide network of organizations attended to raise public awareness and showcase the significant efforts to protect children from abuse and neglect.
A number of opportunities to help children are currently available to help support children. The HOPE Collaborative encourages its members to become a mentor or a court-appointed special advocate volunteer.
“Individuals can stand up for children by providing a home for a foster child, becoming a resource family, volunteering at a school, or simply by extending a helping hand to a parent or child in need,” the county reported.
“It takes a community working in unison to prevent child abuse and neglect in Riverside County. We are thankful for our County and community partners who collaborate with the Department of Public Social Services to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of Riverside County’s next generation,” Charity Douglas, director of the County Department of Public Social Services, said in a statement. “We value each partnership and member of the community who take a stand to prevent abuse and neglect. Behind every report of suspected abuse or neglect is not only an opportunity to ensure a child is safe, but a chance to partner and support families.”
Officials advised people who have reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected to report it to either law enforcement or to the local child welfare agency.
For additional information visit www.hopecollaborative.org or call 951-369-8036.
The HOPE Collaborative acts as Riverside County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council and concentrates “on interagency collaboration, community awareness, education, policy advocacy, and mandatory reporter training,” according to the county. The collaborative works closely with law enforcement, school districts, nonprofits, health care and mental health professionals, faith-based organizations, community advocates and the county’s social services agency.
For almost 70 years, the “Family Service Association has addressed poverty, hunger, and health, from infancy to older adults, in families and under-served communities,” the county reported. “Through early education, trauma-informed mental health services, obtainable senior housing, support for home-bound individuals, safe senior/community centers, and nutritious meals for older adults, FSA’s team members serve over 13,000 community members each year. FSA also lead’s the County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council, The HOPE Collaborative.”