For some of us it's hard to imagine ever putting a child through harm or neglect, but this is a real problem in Winnebago County. Rockford area numbers are in and most are higher than state averages.
Based on a three-year American Community Survey from 2009 to 2011, the only percentage our county's lower than the state in is high school graduation rate. For child abuse and neglect, the average rate for Winnebago county is 19.5 per 1,000 while the state average is 8.3 per 1,000.
"We are one of 38 children's advocacy centers in the state of Illinois and we only serve Winnebago and Boone counties and we've always been one of the busiest centers in the state of Illinois. Outside of Cook County and its collar counties we are the busiest." -says Carrie Lynn Center Executive Director Kathy Pomahac.
Pomahac believes this problem's increasing in our area for a couple reasons.
"Parents get desperate sometimes to make a buck and try to put food on the table or pay for dentistry or whatever they need to do and so to do that, parents sometimes might be making choices to leave children at home by themselves or putting them in places where they aren't safe." -she says.
Adding stress to the mix doesn't help.
"When there are less resources for a family and children are home all the time and parents aren't working it's sort of an explosive situation." -says Pomahac.
That doesn't mean the problem only exists among low-income families.
"We see clients from all socio-economic backgrounds, however, certainly the statistics do bear that the economy and child abuse statistics seem to be going hand in hand." -she adds.
Some other statistics from this Illinois Kids Count 2013 report, the number of children on medical assistance programs increased by 55% in Winnebago County, average family incomes are down while our child population's only getting larger.
If you suspect of want to report child abuse or neglect, call the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services hotline, 1-800-25-ABUSE or the Carrie Lynn Center, (815)319-4150.
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