Meet Mary*. By nine, her addicted mother was out of the picture and she and her siblings were being raised by their recently released but “clean” father. At 16, Mary moved in with her boyfriend six years her senior, partying became their way of life. At 19, she was pregnant and her life forever changed. In and out of extremely abusive relationships, moving from city to city, Mary found herself pregnant with her second child. Another boyfriend, more abuse, more drugs, and with kids witnessing the destruction, Mary was arrested and the kids taken away for their safety. Mary said, “I was getting sober, I was getting compliments, and then I decided to go to Progress House. I started to work on myself. People started telling me that they were proud of me. My family started to communicate with me again. It was sobriety; I started loving myself again. I listened to people, doing what people were asking of me. As my relationship with my children began to grow, I started to become okay with myself.”
With her children in foster care, Mary and her kids are receiving support from many community resources. Mary admits her parenting was poor and wanted to take advantage of all the services, especially with positive parenting skills. Mary is learning the difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline includes everything you do to teach your child good behavior, not just reacting to misbehavior. Following through with consequences, being consistent with her kids, creating boundaries and routine, role modeling staying calm are some of the positive parenting skills Mary is learning. She sees it working too and even better, Mary’s children are respecting her. Mary is forever grateful for all the support she is receiving and we know that she is going to be a great parent. For further information about positive parenting, visit the Child Abuse Prevention Council at www.edccapc.org.
*For confidentiality purposes and out of respect, Mary is a fictitious name.
Judy Knapp-Prevention Works and Sheryce Allendorf- Sierra Children and Families Services
El Dorado County is a great place to live. We have beautiful scenery: rivers, lakes, snow-capped mountain; incredible school systems that meet the needs of the vast majority of our community’s children; we have many and varied opportunities for recreation for the young and old alike; El Dorado County can be a great place to live – unless you are a child that suffers from neglect or abuse. While we would like to believe that is not a problem in our community, it is. To believe otherwise is to ignore our strength and capacity to at reduce, if not eliminate, this problem.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
This week, the Child Abuse Prevention Council would like to share the incredible work that is being carried out every day by non-governmental organizations in our community that help to prevent, intervene and treat family situations that may result in child abuse.
In addition, there are an incredible number of opportunities for young people to participate in non-academic growth opportunities including community sports and recreational programs, boy and girl scouts, school sports, programs through the faith community, etc.
David Ashby El Dorado County Child Abuse Prevention Council
The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) is an issue receiving much attention nationally and throughout the state. In 2014 legislation was passed to include CSEC children as meeting the qualifications for abuse and neglect under California’s Welfare and Institutions Code. This was an important first step by State leaders to address the cause and circumstance of CSEC, and this new legislation permits child welfare agencies to better serve this at risk population. In El Dorado County the Foster Youth and Human Trafficking (FYHT) Task Force has been serving the CSEC population since 2013 and operates under an MOU ratified by the County’s Board of Supervisors. This multidisciplinary team has had the privilege to serve over 30 CSEC youth in El Dorado County, and the California Department of Social Services has identified the FYHT Task Force as a model for a victim focused program for serving CSEC youth.
This multi-agency task force has representatives from the El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency, Office of Education, District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, County Counsel, Placerville Police Department, South Lake Tahoe Police Department, and Youth Advocates of El Dorado County. The task force works closely with Marshall Medical and Barton Memorial Hospital and is supported by dedicated youth services provider agencies on the west slope and in South Lake Tahoe.
CSEC youth require intensive intervention and prevention services and task force members are dedicated in their task to serve this very vulnerable youth population. The focus of the task force and its sponsoring agencies is to greatly reduce or eliminate the sexual exploitation and domestic minor sex trafficking of youth in El Dorado County and to improve outcomes for identified CSEC victims. CSEC victims have often experienced trauma and abuse at a level most people would find difficult to even comprehend, and CSEC victims require intensive therapeutic services that can include out-of-state residential programs. A measure of success for the task force is the reintegration of CSEC youth back into their communities when the youth is ready to transition from a residential program. To date, three youth have successfully made this transition back into our communities, and their futures are bright, promising, and worlds away from the trauma they have experienced and survived. CSEC youth are El Dorado County youth, and their futures will continue to be directly linked to the support and services provided by dedicated community leaders, treatment providers, youth advocates, and workers in County social service programs.