By Jasmine Otam
Hoosiers are being asked to keep an eye out for the signs of child abuse.
Community members and child welfare advocates gathered in the Statehouse Monday to recognize April as Prevent Child Abuse Awareness month.
The governor said the community is key to preventing child abuse.
“The truth of the matter is that preventing child abuse is not the job of the people at the Department of Child Services alone,” said Gov. Mike Pence.
Pence said when lawmakers, state agencies and members of the community work together legislation like Kirk’s Law is created.
The law is named after Kirk Coleman, a 19-month-old child who died while under the supervision of his daycare in 2014.
Pence signed Kirk’s Law this March, which now requires the state to create a registry of individuals convicted of child abuse, including battery, child neglect, child selling or sexual crime against a child.
The registry is required by law to be up and running no later than July 1, 2017.
Last year, the General Assembly appropriated $7.5 million for each year of the state’s two-year budget to hire more Department of Child Services caseworkers. According to the governor’s office, the $15 million has been used to hire 213 caseworkers and 17 supervisors.
“We acknowledge that child abuse is a complex problem affecting children across Indiana,” said Pence. “And we acknowledge that every child is entitled to be loved and cared for and free from verbal, sexual, emotional or physical abuse.”
Pinwheels were handed out to those in attendance Monday. In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the national symbol for child abuse prevention representing a whimsy and a carefree childhood.
Devina Jani, assistant director of Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, explained that in order for the pinwheel to turn, it takes some type of action. She said preventing child abuse also takes action.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, you’re encouraged to call the Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.
Jasmine Otam is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College students.