Child abuse advocates encourage parents to reach out for help before it’s too late

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(June 3, 2015) - It's been a difficult week for child welfare agencies after two children were killed allegedly at the hand of a parent.

"Upsetting that maybe we didn't get the person help, get to the person or the person didn't reach out for help," said Families First counselor, Michelle Gwaltney.

Gwaltney says the numbers for child abuse and welfare cases especially in Marion County for 2015 are overwhelming just six months into the year.

"We had more department child services than we ever had in 2014 and that's up by about 10-15% just for our agency in 2015. There are times where we may get five or six referrals in an hour."

Weak support systems, domestic violence and drug use are some of the biggest contributing factors. So these agencies want to send a message to everyone--you're not alone and don't be afraid to reach out for help.

"There's such a stigma about being involved with the department of child services but there are so many things that they do and agencies like us do to advocate for families to try to stay together long as everyone stays safe," said Gwaltney.

And if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected report it.

"I'm hoping kind of the word is getting around about that making a call to the department of child services doesn't have to be an awful thing you're doing to these parents you could be doing a loving thing to try to help that family out."

For child and family resources click here.