Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Safe Families for Children and HSHS St. John’s Children’s Hospital will commemorate the start of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month at a joint press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 1 at the HSHS St. John’s Pavilion, 301 N. 8th St., Springfield.
Guest speakers will include Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder, DCFS Central Region Administrator Maria Miller, HSHS St. John’s Hospital Interim President and CEO EJ Kuiper, Safe Families For Children Downstate Director Ryan Mobley and Prevent Child Abuse Illinois Director of Communications Jeremy Goeckner. Weather permitting, attendees will gather on the lawn in front of the Pavilion following the event to plant blue pinwheels, one of the national symbols of child abuse prevention.
“Preventing child abuse and neglect is about keeping children safe. All children, of all ages. And we all have a role to play,” said Denise McCaffrey, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Illinois. “As we plant pinwheels, tie blue ribbons, and celebrate April as Child Abuse Prevention Month we can all learn what it takes to protect children.”
“At DCFS, we are often ‘first responders’ when it comes to helping vulnerable children and their families. It’s our critical mission to assess their safety; hear what they are saying, even when they can’t speak for themselves; and ensure that they are better off as a result of coming into our line of sight,” said Interim Director Debra Dyer-Webster. “We all have a responsibility to reach out and touch families who are struggling and do all that we can to support them so they can support their children.”
EJ Kuiper, interim CEO of HSHS St. John’s Hospital said, “As health care providers, we know unaddressed child abuse and neglect often present as an array of unmanaged chronic conditions, psychological disorders and substance abuse and misuse in adulthood. By partnering with others to educate the community on the importance of prevention and early intervention; we are protecting a child’s right to joy and innocence. These critical conversations are foundational to building resilience and improving quality of life and health outcomes in our community.”
Child Abuse Prevention Month has been observed each April since its first presidential proclamation in 1983. Since that time, millions of Americans have participated in this national campaign. Individuals, organizations and communities across the United States plant pinwheels, tie ribbons, organize trainings, host fundraisers and support a multitude of other activities celebrating healthy, happy childhoods and raising awareness that all children deserve to grow up in nurturing, safe homes.
About HSHS St. John’s Hospital
HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois is a regional medical center offering a comprehensive array of health care services to central and southern Illinois. Founded in 1875, St. John’s is the flagship hospital of Hospital Sisters Health System and is home to the Prairie Heart Institute, St. John’s Children’s Hospital, St. John’s Women’s Services, St. John’s Neurosciences Institute, St. John’s Cancer Center, orthopedic services and AthletiCare. St. John’s now has one of the most advanced surgery centers in the nation and a renovated patient tower with all private rooms. St. John’s is designated as a level I trauma center, has its own college of nursing and is a teaching hospital for the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. For more information about St. John’s Hospital, visit www.st-johns.org.
About Hospital Sisters Health System
Hospital Sisters Health System’s (HSHS) mission is to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people through our high quality Franciscan health care ministry. HSHS provides state-of-the-art health care to our patients and is dedicated to serving all people, especially the most vulnerable, at each of our 15 local systems and physician practices in Illinois (Breese, Decatur, Effingham, Greenville, Highland, Litchfield, O’Fallon, Shelbyville and Springfield) and Wisconsin (Chippewa Falls, Eau Claire, Oconto Falls, Sheboygan and two in Green Bay). HSHS is sponsored by Hospital Sisters Ministries, and Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is the founding institute. For more information about HSHS, visit www.hshs.org. For more information about Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, visit www.hospitalsisters.org.