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Services available to protect kids from abuse

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - According to numbers from Child Protective Services, last year more than 2,700 children were suspected of being abused or neglected. When you break that down that's a little over seven children a day being abused in our island.

The month of April is Child Abuse Prevention Month - here are details about a special event organized for tomorrow on how you can join the effort to say no more.

After retiring from a long career with the Government of Guam Diane Calvo has been serving as the executive director of Catholic Social Services for the last three years. And as part of the non-profit organizations 35th anniversary they've been hosting monthly events to spread awareness about the services and programs they provide to the community, one of which is the Alee Children's Shelter.

"It provides shelter for the kids that have been removed from their homes we are a 24 hour 7 day a week operation we accept children from newborn up to the age 17," she explained.

The Alee Childrens Shelter has the ability to house up to 16 children and according to Calvo they're always full, saying, "Part of the reason that its always at capacity is because we have children that have special needs and the social workers at DPHSS are challenged with recruiting foster families and more especially recruiting foster families that are willing to accept children that are with special needs and if a foster placement cannot be found and reunification with the natural families are not able to be arranged then the kids stay with us until we are able to find that suitable home arrangement."

According to the statistics from Public Health last fiscal year Child Protective Services received a total of 1,894 referrals of child abuse and neglect involving a total number of 2,747 children who were suspected of being abused or neglected. According to Calvo with the cases that have been referred to her organization - she's seen an increase in the abuse of children with special needs.

"Usually in if we're looking at what are characteristics tend to have certain children abused more than others children that may have with behavioral challenges children with physical or cognitive disabilities  because it requires a  lot of efforts on the part of the parent or caregiver sometimes that kind of intensive attention is both draining physically and emotionally and mentally and when something triggers the last straw if you will then they take it out sometimes on the children," she said.

According to Calvo its outreaches like tomorrow's Child Abuse Awareness Month Fair that will provide parents information they need to know about what services are available to help them. "And how they can be part of strengthening families developing capacity to cope with stressors linking them to resources such as financial management, housing if that's an issue, just connecting them with what it is that can help stabilize their family situation so that they can then focus on their parental obligation to develop the total child," she said.

The fair is scheduled for Saturday from ten in the morning until two in the afternoon at the Tamuning Mayor's Office Park.
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