TOPEKA, Kan. -- The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback planted a pinwheel garden Friday on the south lawn of the statehouse in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The blue pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse prevention. It was also "Wear Blue Day" as part of the nationwide campaign for child abuse prevention.
SRS honored social workers from southeast Kansas who recently spent three days searching for an 11 month old girl who had been taken by her mother after a judge ordered the baby removed from the home. The social workers searched for the mother and baby in fields, drug houses, and various other locations across a three county area. The baby was eventually found with the mother in a drug house.
The baby is doing well and is being cared for by a foster family.
"We are so proud of the dedication our social workers showed as they searched for the baby," said SRS Deputy Secretary Jim Kallinger. "They set aside everything else and worked tirelessly to make sure the baby was safe."
First Lady Mary Brownback spoke about the importance of preventing child abuse before it starts through parenting classes, community resources, and effective policies.
Signs of child abuse and neglect include: sudden changes in a child's behavior or school performance; a child with unrelated medical problems of which the parent is aware; a child who is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen; a child who lacks adult supervision; a child who is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn; a child who comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home, as well as other indicators.
Since July 1, 2011, Kansas SRS caseworkers have followed up on 18,958 reports of a child in need of care. Of those, 68% were determined to be reports of abuse or neglect.
SRS documents seven different types of abuse or neglect: abandonment, emotional abuse, lack of supervision, medical neglect, physical abuse, physical neglect, and sexual abuse. The other 32% of those reports were determined to be regarding truancy or runaways.
SRS must make contact with the victim or family within 72 hours of receiving a report of abuse or neglect. Reports of child abuse or neglect can be made by calling 1-800-922-5330.
Nationwide, more than 3.5 million cases of suspected child abuse or neglect are reported to state and local child protective services agencies annually.