LIMA — Thursday’s Community for Kids’ 2019 Breakfast provided Allen County the opportunity to not only raise awareness of child abuse but also to celebrate those taking action to combat it.
The superhero-themed event was held to wrap up Allen County Children Services’ activities for April Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.
“With the opiate epidemic and the increasing number of abuse and neglect cases, one agency alone no longer can meet the needs of the community. It takes all of us,” said Cyndi Scanland, Children Services’ executive director. “This is just a community breakfast to thank all of the providers that are at it every day.”
The keynote speaker was Kristi Burre, director of the Ohio Office of Children Services Transformation. Burre was appointed at the beginning of the year by Gov. Mike DeWine to lead child protection and foster care reform efforts.
In her speech, Burre said that last year, there were more than 19,000 confirmed reports of child abuse and/or neglect in Ohio.
“Every day of the year, we should be focusing on the reality of this subject area that kids unfortunately are abused and neglected in our community. No community is free of that,” Burre explained. “The month of April just gives us the opportunity to raise awareness, come together and draw more attention to that and make everyone realize they can all play a part in preventing.”
Burre said part of raising awareness is shining a spotlight on those taking steps to protect children.
“We want to draw attention to that so others know that they can do the same thing,” she said. “You don’t have to be in this line of work. You don’t even have to have kids yourself. There’s a real opportunity to make a difference.”
Prior to her current position, Burre has worked alongside Allen County Children Services.
“I’ve done some training with their staff, so I have worked here specifically with their agency,” she explained. “It’s obvious that they want to continue learning and doing more to be able to do everything we possibly can for kids and families in our communities. Allen County, I wasn’t just saying that, they really are a great county, they’re part of a lot of the extra committees and work that we do across the state.”
At the program, Pastor David Roznowski and 92.1 The Frog’s Dave Woodward and Victoria Gonzalez were honored with Friends of the Children Awards for their community service to help area youth.
Other events throughout April Children Services sponsored included the launch of 127 balloons, each to represent 10 children identified as alleged child abuse victims in 2018 in Allen County, a Wear Blue Contest throughout the area and a Families Build Futures program that included information and representation from various service providers.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.