Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Macon County CASA and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital will commemorate the start of April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month at a joint press conference at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3 at the Macon County Office Building, 5th Floor Macon County Board Room at 141 S. Main St, Decatur.
Guest speakers will include Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, DCFS Interim Director Debra Dyer-Webster, Division Director of Community Outreach at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital Kimberly Luz, Macon County CASA Executive Director Julia Livingston and PCA Illinois Executive Director Denise McCaffrey. Attendees will gather outside the building 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.”
Kimberly Luz, division director of community outreach at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital said, “As adults, we carry the responsibility of speaking up for children who desperately need to be heard. HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital is honored to join others in our community to raise awareness on the role we all play in identifying and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. By simply bringing attention to the epidemic of child abuse we can help prevent our precious children from being victims in their homes, schools and communities.”
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.