The most recent Child Maltreatment Report, authored by the Children’s Bureau, reveals that 522,476 children were victims of abuse in 2015. Each day, countless unnamed individuals and non-profit organizations work toward the goal of eradicating child abuse. For those groups, April is the month when extra attention is focused on the heart-wrenching issue. Designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the month of April sees many groups hosting events to raise awareness of the plight of so many helpless children.

Here in Owensboro, The Community Collaboration for Children Regional Network (CCC) and the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) join together to promote awareness of the reality of child abuse in the local community. These organizations do so by providing a family-friendly event known as The STAND.

According to Kristy Clark, the Program Coordinator for CCC at GRADD, CCC is a federally-funded program through a contract with DCBS. More specifically, CCC is designed to prevent child abuse and neglect, to support and strengthen families, and to encourage communities to work together. The program consists of a Regional Network, with direct services offered throughout GRADD’s 7 counties: Daviess, Hancock, Henderson, Mclean, Ohio, Union, and Webster. For this region, The STAND serves as a tool to bring awareness to the child abuse epidemic, as well as to educate families about the community resources available to them.

Kimberly Butler, MSSW, has been employed with DCBS for 14 years, and has seen the event evolve over time. Butler says, “It started years ago with individuals lining the streets of Frederica to bring child abuse awareness to the community. However, over the last several years it has grown into this large event that has brought our community together with the same goal in mind: to educate, prevent, and take a stand against child abuse.”

Last year, the event drew approximately 30 agencies and vendors actively involved with the cause, as well as roughly 500 individual participants. This year’s STAND is set to include a bounce house, corn hole, side walk chalk, as well as lots of free giveaways.

Jodi McCarty, BSW, a foster care specialist with Sunrise Children’s Services, is one of those individuals who participates in the event, and has seen firsthand the positive impact that the STAND has on children and their families: “The Stand Against Child Abuse provides our community the opportunity to stand for the defenseless. The STAND lets children know they have an advocate, someone who cares about their present and their future, and is there for them, fighting for them.”

Butler echoes McCarty’s sentiments, stating: “I am so proud to be a part of a community that is willing to come together for our children. There are so many community agencies that are ready to come together and support one another to make a difference. Unfortunately it is a reality that child abuse does occur so it is awesome to see everyone coming together to assist in protecting this vulnerable population…our children.”

This year’s STAND Against Child Abuse is set to take place on Thursday, April 13 from 4:30 – 7pm on the lawn in front of the KWC softball field (3000 block of Frederica Street). Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come to this valuable community event.

*This article first appeared in April/May ’17 issue of Owensboro Living Magazine.