South Strand News – April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Georgetown District of African Methodist Episcopal Churches is partnering with the Georgetown County Department of Social Services to host an event acknowledging the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect. The event will take place at the JB Beck Administration and Education Center Friday, April 7, at 1 p.m., and it will highlight community involvement in regard to effective solutions that could prevent child abuse and neglect.

As part of the event, the church association will present care packages for children who are currently in the care of the Georgetown County DSS. “These hygiene kits will really help our children,” said Donna Stackhouse, interim director for Georgetown County DSS. “Sometimes when children come to us from situations involving abuse or neglect, they are not able to bring basic items such as toothbrushes and deodorant with them. These care packages will provide them with some comforts of home.”

The donation of kits from the church association is part of the “Share the Love Project,” a community outreach service activity sponsored by the District Superintendents of the Georgetown District of AME Churches. The Georgetown AME District stretches from the city of Georgetown northward, along the coastal communities of Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet, southward to the North Santee community, west to the Andrews community and northwest to include several churches in the Hemingway community of Williamsburg County. The 32 churches which encompass the Georgetown District are under the leadership of Presiding Elder Sandy William Drayton.

South Carolina DSS Public Information Officer Jade Reynolds said the agency joins with other organizations across the state and supports the efforts of its prevention partner, Children’s Trust of South Carolina, the state’s affiliate organization for Prevent Child Abuse America. Susan Alford, director of the SCDSS said the reach of child abuse and neglect in the state is heartbreaking.” It violates our collective beliefs around protecting our children and keeping our communities safe. What we do in response to reduce the risks surrounding children and families is a test of our character and commitment,” Alford said.”DSS is thankful for the support of children’s services agencies, child advocates, the faith-based community, the legislature, the courts, law enforcement, and others for their role in developing and strengthening the safety net for children in South Carolina,” Alford said.

“Protecting our state’s most precious citizens and preventing child abuse cannot be accomplished alone, but will only be achieved when the entire community is relentless in its advocacy on behalf of children.”According to SCDSS data, from June 2015 to June 2016 there were 43,924 reports/intakes of child abuse and neglect in South Carolina. Of those reported, approximately 25,000 child protective services cases were investigated and abuse was found in more than 10,000 of those cases.

Children’s Trust Chief Executive Officer Sue Williams commended Georgetown DSS and the Georgetown District of AME Churches for their leadership role in preventing child abuse.“Their commitment sends a signal we are united as strong, passionate, statewide advocates for preventing child abuse and neglect,” Williams said. “No single public agency or community organization can do this alone.”

The pinwheel is the national symbol of child abuse prevention that represents a happy, healthy childhood every child deserves, Williams added. When people see a pinwheel or pinwheel garden planted in front of a home, business, church, school or agency in April, they should know what the pinwheel represents.

Reynolds said Prevent Child Abuse America is focusing on three simple actions that people can take to help prevent child abuse: mentor a child or parent, advocate for family-friendly policies and donate to a child-serving organization.

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