Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
March, 2014
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 Child Abuse and our Community

Cases appear to be on the rise

Child abuse and neglect cases appear to be on the increase in Thurston County. That’s according to statistics and reports kept by various agencies that track the data. That’s why Thurston County Commissioners proclaimed April “Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month” and a Child Abuse Task Force has been established. Because of the fragile nature of children, it’s up to all of us to help protect them.

In 2011, reports of suspected child abuse and neglect were coming in to Child Protective Services at a faster pace than the year before. In 2009 and 2010, CPS data shows that more than 1200 county children each year were alleged victims of child abuse or neglect. Though we do not have official 2011 figures yet, the number of alleged child abuse and neglect victims will likely be higher.

Although any case of child abuse and neglect is concerning, there have been some particularly serious cases in Thurston County over the past few years, including: A four-month-old who died from head injuries allegedly inflicted by its mother, a young child who received severe injuries after her stepmother reportedly put her into scalding water and a two-year old boy who suffered severe brain damage, allegedly at the hands of his father.

At this point, there is no clear understanding as to why child abuse and neglect appears to be on the rise in Thurston County. As a result, the Thurston County Child Abuse Task Force is examining this issue to better understand the underlying cause of the apparent increase and to identify effective prevention and intervention strategies. This public-private partnership has representation from a broad range of organizations. Below is a list of just some of the members-

  • Thurston County Board of Commissioners
  • Thurston County Public Health and Social Services
  • Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • Family Education and Support Services
  • Thurston Community Network
  • The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound
  • Department of Social and Health Services/Children’s Administration
  • Thurston County Sheriff’s Office


Thurston County has a range of programs designed to prevent or treat child abuse and neglect. Among them are:
  • Nurse Family Partnership Home Visitation Program
  • Family Recovery Court
  • Supervised Visitation
  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
  • And Family Education and Support Services, just to name a few.


Although these and other services have a good track record of addressing issues related to child abuse and neglect, it is important to not become complacent nor ignore signs that children continue to be at risk.

In proclaiming April “Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month” Commissioner Sandra Romero said, “It’s troubling that we’ve had a spike in incidents of child abuse. There are so many resources out there that can make a difference for parents. When you are angry, just take a breath and count to ten and don’t act out against your child.” Deborah Allen, the Director of the Personal Health Division of Public Health, who accepted the proclamation from the Commissioners said, “There is no better work that we could do than to protect children, for the present and future health of our community.”

If you or someone you know needs resources to help with good parenting skills there are many places to turn. One place to start is the Child Welfare Information Gateway web site Sponsored by The Administration for Children and Families.

If you would like more information about the Thurston County Child Abuse Task Force please contact: Shelly Willis, Executive Director, Family Education and Support Services, 1202 Black Lake Blvd. #B, Olympia, WA 98502. By phone at 360-754-7629 Or on their Web Site

By John Tennis

Working together we can have happy, safe families. Working together we can have happy, safe families.