The song “Lean on Me” resonated in the state Capitol Rotunda as Department of Human Services Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh, members of the General Assembly, child advocates, business leaders, students, and PA Family Support Alliance (PFSA) board members and staff lifted up their collective voices to kick off National Child Abuse Prevention Month by honoring four Pennsylvanians who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect children.
Prior to the official award ceremony, PFSA, along with lawmakers and child advocates, planted thousands of blue ribbon flags along State Street outside the Capitol in Harrisburg.
These flags visually symbolize the number of substantiated child abuse cases that occurred in Pennsylvania in 2021. According to Department of Human Services’ Child Protective Services 2021 Annual Report, there were 5,036 substantiated cases of child abuse, 58 substantiated fatalities, and 136 substantiated near fatalities.
For the week April 1-7, the Capitol as well as the Walnut and Market Street bridges in downtown Harrisburg will be lit up blue — the official color of National Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month
“Our award ceremony and flag-planting event are a symbolic way to call the public’s attention to the overwhelming number of cases of child abuse and neglect — it is a systemic issue plaguing our society,” PFSA President and CEO Angela Liddle said. “While these issues can be difficult for many to talk about, it will take each and every one of us to combat them. Our four Blue Ribbon Champions demonstrate that one individual can truly make a difference in the life of a child.”
“Protecting children from abuse and neglect is a shared responsibility and requires involvement from all of us — families, educators, social services workers, law enforcement, and everyday citizens,” Acting Secretary Val Arkoosh said. “At DHS, we provide a strong safety net for families because when we are able to connect parents with the supports they need, we are also providing the resources for children to live in a safe and protected environment they deserve.”
Known as the Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids, the four honorees received an award and were recognized for their steadfast commitment to protecting Pennsylvania’s children. The winners include a police chief, child welfare professional, community educator, and an abuse prevention specialist.
The 2023 award recipients are:
- Jessica Crouse, Community Educator, Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center, Franklin County.
- Michelle McDyre, Director of Prevention and Outreach, Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, Montgomery County.
- Christina Roland, Director of Intake Services, Cumberland County Children and Youth Services, Cumberland County.
- Charles Streightiff, Chief of Police, Huntingdon Borough Police Department, Huntingdon County.
From Penn Watch, April 5, 2023