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News Community KIDS Place marks 20 years of service

From left, Family Practitioner Sondra Wolf, Highlands Police Officer Mike Jolly, Franklin Police Officer Tracy Chastain, District Attorney Michael Bonfoey and Social Services director Jane Kimsey sign an inter-agency agreement that would renew the cooperative efforts between the agencies and KIDS Place.KIDS Place, a non-profit children’s advocacy center in Franklin, held an event Monday commemorating its 20 years of service in Macon County and honoring its many supporters.

KIDS Place — Kids InterDisciplinary Services, Inc. — was founded in 1991 as a private, nonprofit agency with the mission of providing “hope and healing for abused children and their families through coordinated services in a child-friendly place.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said KIDS Place Executive Director Alisa Ashe to more than 20 law enforcement, education, county and health professionals. “Without your support, or the support of this community, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

June 6 marked the official 20th anniversary of the facility in Macon County.

Sheriff Robert Holland, County Commissioner Ronnie Beale, Mental Health Task Force member Mike Neidig and officials with the District Attorney’s office were among the KIDS Place supporters present at the event.

Since it was purchased in 2005, the agency’s stone house in Franklin has taken on a cozy life of its own, explained two original agency founders, Jane Kimsey and Teresa Mallonee.

“We’re in our own home now. This place is mortgage free, which is quite an accomplishment,” said Kimsey.

The little stone building that houses KIDS Place is mortgage free, an accomplishment the agency is proud of.The facility treats approximately 130 children a year, Ashe explained. “The numbers have declined in the last few years,” she said.

KIDS Place is facing one of its toughest financial years to date, explained Ashe. However, the community has demonstrated year after year its willingness to aid the agency with its funding. “The community keeps giving and giving and we are truly grateful — these children really need it,” she said.

The organization is crucial in treating abused children while offenders are prosecuted, explained Macon County Assistant District Attorney Ashley Hornsby-Welch. “It’s fantastic. It allows us to work with various positions in the community,” she said. “KIDS place provides our victims with support while we are in the middle of a trial.”

How to help KIDS

As KIDS Place has dealt with the budgetary constraints of recent years, some local craftsmen have sold their hand-built bluebird houses to benefit KIDS Place. After three years of effort, proceeds have now reached $5,000 at $10 a house, said Ashe, adding that the houses are still for sale.

“The money will be used to help us pay for things that we just can’t find grant funding to pay for, from the power bill to the water bill to counseling and case management,” Ashe said last week. In the past year, nearly 100 of the bluebird houses were sold.

To learn more about KIDS Place, call (828)524-3199. For more information about the bluebird houses, call John Gallant at (828)524-9229.

Not only can you invite bluebirds to your house while supporting a good cause, but you can also enjoy some art and chocolate at the height of summer.

The Zonta Club’s Eighth Annual Evening of Art & Chocolate fundraiser is set for Saturday, Aug. 6. Proceeds will benefit KIDS Place and the scholarship/ sponsorship for women’s programs. Local corporations, businesses, individuals or artists interested in sponsoring the event can contact the Franklin Chamber of Commerce at (828)524-3161.

How you can prevent child abuse and neglect

Help Parents You Know

• Support parent education programs at your school or facility
• Use positive discipline techniques
• Support groups for single parents
• Promote positive play interaction between parents and children
• Reach out to parents who are struggling
• Offer to help parents you know who are or might be under stress
• Stay with the children while the parents take a break
• Offer positive encouragement when you see a parent interacting positively with their child
• Help parents talk with their children about safety issues

Help Yourself

If you are a parent under stress:

• Ask for help
• Learn about positive discipline
• Learn about child development
• Talk with other parents or join a parenting group

Act When You See A Child Mistreated in Public

• Engage the parent and be sympathetic
• Call the manager if you believe a child is in danger or
• Call the local authorities yourself
• Volunteer At a Child Abuse Prevention Program
• Contact KIDS Place at (828)524-3199

Role of Community in Child Abuse Prevention

• Report suspected abuse and neglect
• Advocate for services for families
• Initiate or support public awareness activities
• Participate in activities during April, "Child Abuse Prevention Month"
• Make a contribution to a child abuse prevention program. Many organizations are private, not-for-profit agencies. Contributions of time or money is vital to help these agencies continue to provide much needed services for children and their families.

Encourage people in your community to:

• Advocate for policies in the workplace that are family friendly
• Be a mentor to neighborhood youth
• Help form an after-school "Safe House" for children in your neighborhood
• Offer a helping hand to single parents or families under stress in your neighborhood
• Intervene when you see a child being mistreated in public
• Find ways to educate your community about the respect children need and deserve

The Faith Community's Role

Some things faith-based groups can do to prevent child abuse:

• Copy and distribute materials on child abuse prevention
• Offer respite care to congregation members in need of short-term relief
• Provide information on child development and community resources during counseling sessions
• Share information on how to report child abuse and neglect in church bulletins and newsletters
• Train spiritual leaders to recognize the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect
• Work with families and make appropriate referrals
• Celebrate children and families by hosting a "Children's Day"
• Donate space for parent support groups or parent education programs

Business' Role in Child Abuse Prevention

Some ways businesses can contribute to child abuse prevention:

• Distribute Blue Ribbons to employees during April - Child Abuse Prevention Month
• Invite a child welfare worker to speak at a company function
• Encourage employees to donate their time to child abuse prevention programs by offering paid leave for volunteer activities
• Encourage the company to make a contribution to a non-profit child abuse prevention agency
• Examine your business to see if it is " Family Friendly." Do policies allow parents to make their children a priority?

[source: Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect Manual: Prevent Child Abuse NC]

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