Tracy Valentine, social worker/investigator, assisted by Tracy Rupp, social worker, both from Williams County Jobs & Family Services, were guest speakers for the April 10th regular meeting of CHWC-Montpelier Hospital Auxiliary in the hospital conference room. Armeda Sawmiller, auxiliary president, opened the meeting welcoming everyone and leading the auxiliary prayer. Gloria Poorman, program committee member, introduced the speakers.
April is designated as Child Abuse Awareness Month and blue pinwheels are distributed for display by the county agency to bring awareness to this problem. To date Williams County has had 163 reports of child abuse and neglect with 120 children as victims of child maltreatment. Tracy Valentine explained that child abuse is a community concern and we all have a legal and moral obligation to keep our children and elderly in a safe environment. She outlined the process when a child or elderly abuse/neglect report is received. Attempts are made to keep them in their home if possible, keeping in mind the safety and well-being of those involved. All reports are assessed and investigated through a screening process.
Social workers at the agency work a regular daily schedule which many times includes extended hours and they are on call 24 hours. They develop a case plan, identify the family situation and if necessary, refer family members to appropriate support services and organizations. Case investigation usually takes 30-45 days to process and if additional action is needed, the case is handed over to a social worker. Some cases may need referral to juvenile or criminal courts.
Sexual abuse cases are very serious and the investigation includes interviews with the child involved and the alleged perpetrator. A comfortable environment is provided during the child’s interview with access to toys, coloring books, etc. by social workers with law enforcement officers observing “behind the scene”. Interviews are recorded.
Depending on the situation such as drug or sexual abuse or physical injury, some children need to be removed from an unsafe home and placed in foster care. Currently there are 26 children in foster care, with an average of 25-30 children each month needing foster care homes.
Child maltreatment is defined as any act or failure by a parent, guardian or caregiver that results in physical, mental, emotional or sexual harm or injury. This does not include “spanking” used as a disciplinary action unless extremely severe.
Alternative Response is a new approach by Ohio’s county child welfare agencies to help families get access to services and support to help resolve concerns. It is based on the belief that families can stay together if they receive the assistance they need, not finding fault or blame, gathering evidence, or creating negative labels. Social workers seek to form a partnership with the families to identify concerns and find solutions.
Elder abuse involves the mistreatment or neglect of an adult age 60 or older, usually by a relative or caregiver, which may include physical violence, threats, verbal or emotional abuse, financial exploitation, neglect, or violation of their privacy or basic rights.
Anyone who suspects a case of child or elder abuse or neglect should contact the Williams County Dept. of Jobs and Family Services, ph: 419-636-6725, during regular business hours. If after business hours, please contact your local law enforcement agency. Before calling, please have all pertinent information available including the person’s name, address, age, caregiver’s name, alleged perpetrator’s name and address, reason to suspect abuse or neglect and the extent of harm or injury.
Following the guest speakers, Auxiliary President Armeda Sawmiller conducted the business portion of the meeting with roll call—“What is your favorite jelly bean flavor?”. Thought for the day was “A room without books is like a body without a soul” by Marcus Tullius Cicero. After reports by Secretary Connie Dunseth and Treasurer Barb Dietsch, various committee reports were given.
The auxiliary will sponsor the annual Staff Appreciation Tea on Monday, May 1st from 2:00-4:00 p.m. in the hospital conference room. A signup sheet was passed for members to bring donations of food items to the conference room by 12 noon for the tea.
President Armeda thanked all the volunteers who helped with registration and canteen for the recent Red Cross Blood Drive at the hospital March 31st and the auxiliary-sponsored Book & Gift Fair held Tuesday, April 4th in the conference room.
Patient favors of colored carnations in vases with blue pinwheels were delivered for April by Deloris Dennis and Lorna Myers. Hostesses for the day were Armeda and Marcy Brace. The auxiliary executive board will take care of patient favors for May. Nurses’ Week will be observed May 6-12 with special flyers provided by the auxiliary thanking all nurses for their dedication and compassion for patients and cooperation with the hospital and medical staffs.
The next regular auxiliary meeting will be held Monday, May 8th at 1:00 p.m. in the hospital conference room with a guest speaker representing Northwest Ohio Special Olympics. Roll call will be to share a talent your mother passed on to you. A silent auction is also planned that day. Following adjournment, refreshments of cookies, fruit and cheese were enjoyed.