Pinwheels of Hope

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday afternoon the city held a pinwheel garden dedication ceremony to promote child well being in the community. The ceremony was part of April’s National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Each participant was presented with a blue pinwheel to plant in honor of a child and learned about what they could do through small acts to help protect children, strengthen families, and foster the health of the next generation.

Featured speakers included Ronnie Burke of Family Connections, Elizabeth Whaley of Stewards of Children, Katherine Jones of Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, Amy Eakin of Child Advocacy Center, Nan Mcintosh of CASA, Jackie Bridges of DFCS and Joe Mullholland of the District Attorney’s Office.

Email newsletter signup

Bridges spoke on one of the most prevalent issues abused and displaced children are facing, which is foster care. Bridges informed the audience that foster care is not working.

“We have more children in foster care in Decatur County than we have had in a long time,” she said. “We have almost 80 children in foster care.”

Bridges said years ago families helped families. If one family member saw another was becoming overwhelmed and incapable of taking on that responsibility, they stepped in and ensured the child would still be raised in a safe environment. Once the government stepped in, families took a back seat.

This really hurts the kids Bridges told everyone. The issue is that foster care does not bring the family back together or bring back that missing piece. They try to do the best they can, but the foster care system fails in rebuilding families. Foster children also have the lowest graduation rate and GED rate of any other group of children.

DFCS has had 200 reports of abuse or neglect since January, with only 15 reports screened out. Bridges said she loves helping these children and she thinks she has created an impact on their life, but the number one thing she thinks about is what children in foster care have told her once they became an adult:

“The trauma of being put in foster care was worse than the trauma I was facing at that time.”

Bridges said this has stuck with her and she needs the community to step up and not always call DFCS and law enforcement, but offer to help and reach out to family and offer them resources, when things seem difficult.

She asked everyone at the end of her speech to put their pinwheel in the ground and let it signify hope that there will not be another 80 children who end up in foster care or 200 reports of abuse.

Attendants vowed to help out in their community and see that every child has a chance and someone to love them.