Child Abuse In Pocahontas County Is Four Times National Average
Marlinton, WV – Kat Thompson, a volunteer with the Child and Youth Advocacy Center shared some shocking statistics during the February 23rd Create Pocahontas meeting in Marlinton.
“The incidence of child abuse and neglect in Pocahontas County is 36.4 per 1,000 children” she says. “Which might not sound like a lot but it’s actually twice the state average and four times the National Average.”
The CYAC is centered in Lewisburg but they opened a satellite office in Marlinton in July, staffed by Kat on a part time basis. Kat says that since the Marlinton Office opened the number of children helped by the CYAC has doubled from 20 to 40. She attributes much of that increase to convenience, as parents no longer have to drive to Lewisburg to obtain CYAC assistance.
Kat says they work with the Prosecuting Attorney, the Sherriff’s Department, Child Protective Services, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) and other child focused organizations to ensure streamlined investigations into cases of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect. She says her office is here to provide support and advocacy services to children and their families. The goal is to make sure that once identified as a victim, no child falls through the cracks.
Kat says that the severe shortage of mental health and medical professionals in the county who are willing to deal with cases of abuse and neglect is a major problem. One of her objectives for next year is to locate and identify such professionals. Kat says that if training is necessary, she’ll help find the resources so that her office can have contract staff members who are responsible for the medical and mental health aspects.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In coordination with CASA, Kat says they’re planning a fund raiser.
“I’m trying to organize a blue grass old time benefit concert at the Opera House on Friday April 22” she says. “It’s going to be from 7 to 9 pm.”
Monies raised from the event will be used by both CYAC and CASA to help abused and neglected children with such things as clothes, bills and other things the kids may need.
Kat also works for the Chamber of Commerce. In this role she’s helping the Chamber put together the 2011-2012 Business Directory that they will publish in the spring. She says another Chamber program will help students at Pocahontas High School to complete their internship requirement for graduation.
“That’s the Young Professionals Career Networking Program, or YPP for short” says Thompson. “What we’re trying to do is basically connect Pocahontas County High School students with Chamber business owners.”
Kat says they’re going to have a Career Day at the High School in early April, the first such Career Day held in several years. That forum will serve to connect students with business owners and potential employers as well as give the students some practice in interviewing.
To reach Kat Thompson call 304-799-2509 or e-mail kat dot thompson937 at gmail dot com.