This news item expired on Sunday, April 30, 2023 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
Preventing abuse and neglect requires a whole community response that exceeds the boundaries of any one agency. Buncombe County Health and Human Services (BCHHS) encourages community members and organizations to prioritize the most vulnerable members of our community, our children. When partners come together and invest wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity, healthier life choices, and a stronger dedication to making this community better for all.
In 2022, BCHHS screened in and assigned for assessment 2878 reports of alleged abuse, neglect, or dependency, averaging about 250 new assessments each month. This means that the reported allegations met the criteria of abuse, neglect or dependency, and the case was assigned for further assessment. Of those completed assessments, child maltreatment was found in 371 instances, putting those abused and neglected children at imminent risk of entering the foster care system.
Each month, Family In Home Services- a program designed to increase child safety and prevent family separation, supports approximately 300 children in over 140 families. In addition, our Prevention Social Workers work with an average of 47 families to address concerns related to child and family well-being. Oftentimes, families are dealing with a myriad of challenges that range from generational trauma, financial concerns, substance use issues, and behavioral health challenges. This creates a complex scenario that requires a complex and nuanced response to best support families in their journey.
“I am grateful to work with an organization that supports the prevention of child abuse and neglect through innovative programming and collaborative partnerships. Across all service areas at Health and Human Services, our teams are dedicated to growing the protective capacities of children and families, acknowledging what they do well and partnering with them to identify opportunities and link them to services and resources. I know that we cannot prevent maltreatment alone and we rely heavily on our community partnerships with agencies like Mountain Child Advocacy Center, Resources for Resiliency, October Road, and Family Preservation Services.”
Of the 320 Buncombe children in Foster Care, 142 children are currently placed outside of Buncombe County. Some of these children are staying with family members who live in other counties or States, but many of these children are placed away from their home communities due to a lack of Buncombe County foster parents. Sometimes children placed outside of their home communities can experience more challenges in the Foster Care system and are less likely to reunify with their home communities. Buncombe County needs more foster parents so we can bring our kids back home! BCHHS offers foster parent training classes, also known as MAPP Classes. The next foster parent training session starts on April 13, 2023.
N.C. law requires that local county departments of Social Work Services ensure children's safety in their homes. Please contact Child Protective Services at (828) 250-5900 if you have a concern about child safety. For more information on Child Protective Services in Buncombe County, click here.
The following events will take place throughout the month of April to support child abuse prevention in our area:
- The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will issue a Child Abuse Prevention Proclamation at the April 4th Board meeting.
- BCHHS locations will be lighted in blue at dark to remind the community to prevent and report suspected child abuse or neglect.
- Once you learn to recognize and react to child sexual abuse, you may wonder what happens when you make a report. A representative from Buncombe County Department of Social Services will discuss what triggers an investigation, how an investigation is conducted, and possible outcomes of an investigation, including placement alternatives. This training will occur on April 20, 2023. The training registration link can be found here: https://mahec.net/home/event/70364
- BCHHS offers foster parent training classes, also known as MAPP Classes. The next foster parent training session starts on April 13, 2023. This six-week course is offered once a week and we encourage anyone who is interested in fostering to contact us to learn more. Information can be found on our website at buncombecounty.org/foster.
- Brixx Buxx Fundraising Event for Mountain Child Advocacy Center on Thursday, April 6, 2023, at Brixx Asheville, 30 Town Square Blvd- Asheville, NC 28803. $4 from every adult pizza and $1 from every kid’s pizza will be donated to Mountain Child Advocacy Center.