GREENSBORO, N.C. — Dr. Kelly Graves, who specializes in child psychology, is the project director for the Kellin Foundation Child Response Initiative (CRI) Program. The nonprofit organization, funded by grants, works in partnership with the Greensboro Police Department to raise awareness about child abuse.
When the Greensboro Police Department deals with a case of reported child abuse or suspected child abuse, officers reach out to Child Protective Services (CPS) underneath the Department of Social Services. CPS workers are responsible for a number of responsibilities: documenting child abuse paperwork, following up and investigating cases and ultimately deciding if a child is in danger and/or at risk — and needs to be removed from a home. In conjunction with CPS, police officers also reach out to child advocates with the CRI program. Child advocates with the nonprofit give an additional layer of support to help victims and families solve the problem and prevent future ones.
The CRI program assists with a range of cases related to child abuse: in situations where a child may be physically, mentally or sexually abused; in cases where there is possible neglect — from the lack of food in their home to no working utilities in their home; or in times where a child is suffering from symptoms of trauma after experiencing or witnessing an event. The nonprofit connects victims and families to existing resources available through the City of Greensboro and Guilford County: safety planning, victim advocacy and support, counseling and several other services. In some situations, the nonprofit can donate financially.
In the past year, Guilford County commissioners said there were 5,600 cases of reported child abuse in the county. At the most recent commissioners meeting, members declared April Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Prevention Month in Guilford County. Nationally, April is recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Lisa Taylor is a survivor of child abuse and has been an advocate with the CRI program since 2012. Advocates are stationed in the police department substations, where they work with police, side-by-side, to help with prevention and intervention. Taylor says it’s important for the community to help identify child abuse victims.
“Signs to look for: bed-wetting, isolation, not really wanting to talk, depressed,” Taylor said. “Notice the physical signs: scars, bruises, swelling.”
On Wednesday — county commissioners, city council members, police and child advocates planted pinwheels during the “Pinwheels for Prevention” event. They were planted outside the police substation on 1106 Maple St.