Beasley Allen staff dressed in blue today to recognize the beginning of National Child Abuse Awareness month.
More than 8,000 Alabama children suffer abuse each year, according to the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration’s Children’s Bureau. Those children would fill up at least 111 school buses. The Bureau’s Child Maltreatment report shows that between 2011 and 2015, 94 Alabama children, approximately five kindergarten classes, died because of child abuse.
Closer to home, Jannah Bailey, executive director of Child Protect, explains that her agency serves around 600 child abuse victims each year. Child Protect is the local nonprofit children’s advocacy center that serves the River Region by assisting the Department of Human Resources and local law enforcement agencies with investigations of child abuse. It works to minimize the trauma of child abuse and to help children rebuild their lives after experiencing maltreatment – typically, at the hands of someone they know and love.
“The staff and leadership of Child Protect provide an important service to our community by meeting the needs of vulnerable children when they need it most,” said Beasley Allen Founder Jere Beasley. “We applaud their tireless dedication and professionalism, despite the call for them to witness unimaginable horrors some children are forced to endure.”
Earlier this week, representatives from Beasley Allen joined a crowd of child advocates and community volunteers to celebrate Child Protect’s expansion. The organization broke ground on a $600,000 building project, which will expand its current location to the empty lot adjacent to the building. Plans include an annex named after current board member and longtime supporter, Jean L. Drummond.
The annex will house a larger conference room to expand ongoing training for the staff and community, shower facilities for victims, and a kitchen that will be used as part of the counseling process to provide a safe harbor for children surviving trauma and chaos. It will also provide office space for social workers and law enforcement officers investigating the crimes, cutting out unnecessary travel to offsite offices.
Jannah explained that the agency “will be able to provide more counseling services to the children [it serves] and more community awareness and training.” She described this as an important time for expanding because the internet – especially social media sites – have created even more ways for children to be exposed to predators and that reporting of abuse has increased.
In March, the organization also opened satellite offices in Prattville and Wetumpka. The new offices provide a place in their community for victims in Autauga and Elmore counties to receive the services they need without the additional stress of traveling to Montgomery.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau