City, FSC planting awareness for child abuse prevention
May 10, 2017 11:34AM
By Travis Barton
Councilman Don Christensen plants the last of his pinwheels in front of City Hall. Each pinwheel represents a victim of child abuse. (Travis Barton/City Journals)
By Travis Barton | [email protected]
Nationally, April is designated as Child Abuse Awareness month, but Family Support Center (FSC) Executive Director Jeff Bird doesn’t want to talk national numbers.
“That makes it feel like it’s an ‘over there’ type problem. Unfortunately, child abuse is a serious problem here,” Bird told the city council on April 4. There were 831 confirmed child victims in West Valley City in 2016 and 3,708 in Salt Lake County.
“Each of those cases impacted an entire family,” Bird said.
West Valley City recognized April as Child Abuse Prevention month during its April 4 city council meeting. Prior to the meeting, elected officials planted blue pinwheels in front of city hall to represent the victims of child abuse.
Throughout April, a table was located next to the main doors of city hall with information about child abuse and handouts on preventing it.
Having the city support helps get the conversation going, Bird said.
“The city recognizing there is a problem helps everyone else recognize there is a problem…this is really protecting the most vulnerable among us, our kids,” he said.
Councilman Steve Buhler read the city’s proclamation that said, “the children of West Valley City are the future of our state’s success and investing in their general welfare, safety and livelihood are of utmost priority” and that “all citizens of West Valley City should become more aware of child abuse and its prevention within their respective communities.”
A big asset in prevention is the Family Support Center (FSC), said Bird and FSC Development Director Barbara Stallone.
They reported that in 2016, 1,501 different children visited FSC crisis nurseries, where short-term childcare is provided for free to families in crisis situations or children at-risk of abuse or neglect.
They also reported 10,076 visits, 1,176 overnight stays and 10,884 meals were served in 2016.
“This level of service provided 56,006 hours of care to our most vulnerable population: children at-risk for abuse,” Bird said, adding that post-service surveys said 97 percent of parents indicated that crises “had been successfully defused.”
Stallone said there exists many worthy causes, but this one is about children.
“Children are our future, they're our every dream that we have, they're our focus, they are gonna determine what our city looks like,” she said.
Bird took the executive director position two months ago after serving four years at the American Diabetes Association in the same position. He said they’ve also received support from the county and Taylorsville.
“To see all this municipal government support us is really rewarding, helps us know we're doing something right,” Bird said.
Bird and Stallone said FSC is always accepting donations and volunteers. Last year saw almost 12,000 hours of community volunteers. Stallone said those hours are what allows them to “keep costs to the absolute minimum.”
With FSC currently providing clothes, food and formula for kids right now, she said their greatest need is specialty formulas adding they are “critically low” on soy-based formulas and hypo-allergenic formulas.
The crisis nursery in West Valley City is located across from Granger High School at 3663 S. 3600 West and FSC’s headquarters is at 1760 W. 4805 South in Taylorsville.