Pinwheels for Prevention highlights child abuse, neglect in Rock County

Pinwheels for Prevention highlights child abuse, neglect in Rock County

Thousands of blue pinwheels stand tall on the Lower Courthouse Park lawn in Janesville — each one representing a child abuse case in Rock County.

There are more than 3,000 pinwheels.

“The child welfare system right now is very overloaded,” said Sandy Johnson, the program director for CASA of Rock County.

CASA stands for court appointed special advocates. The program trains volunteers to serve as advocates for victims of child abuse and neglect.

“It’s so important because these kids, through no fault of their own, are in the system and they’re placed in foster care and they really need adults who are by their side,” Johnson said. “We as a community really need to be proactive and looking for the signs of child abuse and prevention, so that we can be a force and a community that will help keep children safe and have them have the happy childhood they deserve.”

CASA of Rock County says there are more than 3,000 child abuse and neglect cases in Rock County each year. April is Nation Child Abuse Prevention month & these pinwheels will stay up through the end of the month to represent each case #news3

— Jenna Middaugh (@JennaMiddaugh) April 25, 2018

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and a recent neglect case in Beloit is highlighting the importance of programs like CASA of Rock County.

“We have 190 children on our waiting list who need advocates, so we have a great need in this community to have advocates that are looking out for the needs of these kids,” Johnson said.

She said the community can also help by being aware of potential abuse and neglect cases around them.

“You’re looking for signs of whether or not the child is neglected and unfed or hungry or if they have any signs of physical abuse,” Johnson said. “You can do that by just becoming an aware neighbor and an aware community member and looking out to make sure that kids are safe.”

She said other signs include any unexplained injuries where the child’s story doesn’t make sense or fit with the extent of the injury, or any time a child says something concerning.

“Those are things that you should just immediately call child protective services about and they will investigate the report,” Johnson said.

There’s more information on CASA’s website for people who are interested in learning more about the program or volunteering to be an advocate.