From the Langlade County Department of Social Services
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and the Langlade County Department of Social Services wants to let you know how you can help. Prevention of child abuse or maltreatment involves all of us to some extent and is the responsibility of the whole community. What helps to prevent abuse depends on what type of abuse you are talking about.
The Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 48, or the Children’s Code, as it is called, defines four different types of child maltreatment. Maltreatment could be physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, or emotional abuse. The County Department analyzes information that is reported to determine if abuse or neglect has occurred. In addition to the Wisconsin Statutes, the state’s Department of Children and Families provides specific guidelines for the county to follow in each case that it opens.
Most professionals and community members agree that child neglect is the largest problem faced by our families and communities in Langlade County. There are high numbers of families impacted by the abuse of drugs and drug addiction. The role of the county social worker is multi-faceted. Workers need to investigate possible abuse and neglect, assess the ability of parents to protect their children, determine what services are needed to improve the situation, and monitor progress on goals that are identified. Throughout the case process, workers are assessing for immediate safety of children and responding promptly when safety in the home cannot be assured. Parents who need help with addiction or other issues are offered opportunities to participate in treatment or other services, such as parenting education.
Primarily working with families who are already struggling, the Langlade County Department of Social Services works hand in hand with other organizations and community partners to prevent future abuse or neglect of children. These partners include law enforcement, North Central Health Care, Aspirus Hospital, the state Probation and Parole office, the Family Resource Center through Children’s Hospital and the local school districts. We can be proud of the system that is in place to help children and families in trouble, but preventing that first report to Social Services should be the goal of all of us.
You may wonder what the average person can do to prevent child abuse, and there are many ways to get involved. First, each of us can support efforts within our community that would improve access to services, especially mental health and substance abuse treatment. Individuals can mentor young people and families, providing that important social support network that is often missing for those who struggle. Mentoring takes many forms and doesn’t necessarily involve a formal program. Ordinary citizens can volunteer with organizations that serve children and their families, helping to strengthen and support the existing family structures. Lastly, individuals can consider becoming foster parents. Training and other supports are provided for the important work of fostering children.
For more information on available services and opportunities, or to report child abuse, please call the Langlade County Department of Social Services at 715-627-6500.