Thursday, July 31, 2008

Civilian’ sets training for agencies on abuse issues

By Josh Brodesky
arizona daily star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.07.2008
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Mica Kinder isn’t quite the last person you’d expect to put together multiagency child-welfare training, but she’s pretty close.
A mother of two and a former dance instructor, Kinder is neither a bureaucrat nor a social worker.
She has no formal ties to law enforcement or Child Protective Services, yet she was able to bring together an array of agencies for training this month on recognizing the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect. The five-hour class is slated for July 26 in the University of Arizona’s McKale Center. It’s designed for teachers, who can get continuing-education credit for attending, but the course is open to anyone working in child care.
The basic thrust is not only to outline how to properly report signs of child abuse and neglect, but also to determine what the signs are, as well as what happens to children after a report is made.
“Even though teachers are mandated reporters, they only get a one-hour class on the reporting laws,” Kinder said.
“They are only educated on the laws, they are not educated on what to report. … One of the things that everyone involved really wanted to see was not only signs of abuse or reports, but what happens after.”
Kinder is not an expert in child welfare, but she became interested in creating an in-depth class on child welfare issues several years after seeing a program on the city’s Tucson 12 channel on local cable.
The idea percolated for a few years. But after attending last year’s legislative hearings on recent child-death cases, she picked it up again and was able to bring representatives from state Child Protective Services, the Tucson Police Department, the Pima County Attorney’s Office and the Southern Arizona Children’s Advocacy Center into the fold.
“Everyone that’s involved is at the top of their field in Tucson,” she said.
Deputy Pima County Attorney Susan Eazer said she welcomes the training as a way to heighten awareness about child abuse and neglect among people who work with youth.
“Obviously, sharing information and giving anybody who deals with child care new information in how to recognize the signs of child abuse is a good thing,” Eazer said.
“We are trying to give them a picture of each of the different phases and different things to look out for.”
And Vicki Gaubeca, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, said the agency routinely gives public presentations about the reporting process.
“Our main goal is that the more people know how to recognize symptoms about neglect or abuse, the more likely they will make a report,” Gaubeca said.
“We would prefer that people err on the side of overreporting versus underreporting. So, if a person has a reason to suspect that there is something going on, we would rather they call.”
● Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or at jbrodesky@azstarnet.com.