Columbia, S.C. (WACH) — As the number of child abuse cases continue to rise in the state, Children’s Trust of South Carolina is encouraging young moms that help is out there. The organization is an advocacy group working on behalf of families; their goal is prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Sue Williams, CEO of Children’s Trust of South Carolina, says that young mothers, especially, experience a difficult time after childbirth because they are at a critical developmental stage themselves.

“It’s an added stressor because they’re own development isn’t far enough along,” said Williams. “They’re still developmentally — appropriately — thinking of themselves; that’s what teenagers do.”

Williams says the experience can be jarring for teenage mothers attempting to learn how to be independent and live without their own parents. “Now, they have this other person to take care of or to think about,” said Williams. “And it’s stressful. And depending on the support around them, [it] can either add to, or alleviate, that stress.”

Williams says it’s important for young mothers to have a support system — friends, families, neighbors, etc. She also stressed that staying in school and being connected to social activities are strong predictors of not only young mothers being able to cope with the stressors of motherhood, but also the avoidance of substance abuse.

Substance abuse and addiction, she says, has a significant impact in many child abuse and neglect cases. Statistics from Children’s Trust show that 17,662 children were “in founded investigations of child abuse and neglect”. The organization also notes that 62 percent of South Carolina adults reported an “adverse experience”.

The Trust, along with their partners, offers several programs to help young mothers live happily with their little ones. This includes what they call “Home Visiting”, where specialists assist mothers and children with healthy and safe home environments, financial stability, pediatric visits, developmental milestones and more.

They also offer programs to help young mothers get connected with the community and other young mothers. To view those programs, you can visit  Children’s Trust of South Carolina website.