422 blue pinwheels installed in Harrison Co.

CADIZ — The Harrison County Department of Jobs and Family Services installed 422 blue pinwheels on the steps of the Harrison County Courthouse in honor of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

The blue pinwheel is a national symbol for child abuse prevention. Each pinwheel the DJFS installed represents a report of abuse or neglect they received in 2018.

Department Director Deb Knight released her agency’s Child Welfare Annual Report for 2018 during Wednesday’s meeting of the Harrison County commissiners.

According to the report, 422 reports of abuse or neglect were received last year, 119 of which were screened out. Knight explained that the department has a complicated screening process and guidelines that case workers must follow when investigating each report. They must look at each report and decide whether it is indeed a case of abuse or neglect. If there is insufficient information, such as no names or address included, the report is screened out, but remains in the system to form a history, she said.

Of the 134 screened-in reports, 38 percent were neglect cases, 25 percent physical abuse, 22 percent sexual abuse, 9 percent medical neglect and 6 percent emotional maltreatment.

Knight stated the agency had 25 children taken into custody in 2018. The placement costs for those 25 children was $882,256. She said 43 percent of that money came from federal reimbursements and the other 57 percent came from local dollars. More than half of the cost of care (55 percent) was due to group and residential care facilities and the other half was for licensed foster homes (45 percent). Knight said the high cost was mostly due to the trauma children have experienced, which requires a higher level of care, like that which a group home or care center can provide.