Prevent Child Abuse in Tioga County

It’s child abuse prevention awareness month – help save lives!

by Amiee Jones – April 5, 2017

To many of us, Social Work is an illusive thing. After all, there are so many facets to society, where would one even begin! However, after an interview with key leaders of the Family Services Department, it is clear that their role is not only distinct, but vital for Tioga County. Michele Rigalbuto and Christa Hilfiger shared their specific duties as superiors within Family Services, as well as, some upcoming events we all should know about.

“Here at family services, we work with a number of problems that have risen in Tioga County,” explained Ongoing Manager, Michele Rigalbuto. Family Services exists to advocate for children and help our county’s families to have healthy, functioning homes. The department receives reports of children that may be in danger of some kind. From there, a caseworker is sent to assess the situation, and offer different programs and tools for the specific need. Some of those solutions may be helping with parenting skills, finding therapy, or directing the children toward healthy social outlets/programs. The process begins with Christa Hilfiger’s department team handling these reports. As Service Planning Manager, Christa assigns caseworkers to families, and oversees the investigation of each report. “We can take up to 60 days to complete an investigation, and then we make a decision whether the family needs more intensive services or not. We make referrals to different communities organizations, depending on the needs of the family,” Hilfiger clarified. From there, Michele’s team is charged with the task of continuing the action that Service Planning decided upon. These tough workers are laboring as a voice for abused children, and as advocates for the health of our county’s homes!

The importance of Family Services’ work is especially highlighted in April, as it is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Michele and Christa divulged an extensive schedule of events that have been planned in hopes to raise awareness of the reality of child abuse, in addition to educating others in how to both notice the problem and prevent it from happening. The department’s plans for the month of April are as follows:
March 29th- baskets were donated to Soldiers and Sailors Hospital full of supplies for newborns, as well as parenting/infant care information
April 3rd- cookies, coloring pages, and informational packets were distributed to schools
April 14th- cookies and resource cards with the names and numbers of local clinics and services were distributed to local law enforcement
April 21st- “Feeling Blue About Abuse Day”. Where blue to show support.

In addition to these events and outreaches, you may notice that main street windows in different areas of Tioga County are painted for Child Abuse Prevention Month. This artwork was facilitated by Family Services, but executed by local high school students joining the cause. Also, to increase their impact throughout the month, Family Services is hosting a month long Facebook Event, titled “Child Abuse Prevention Month”. Regular posts are made informing viewers of the realities of child abuse, how to identify the problem, how to handle the problem, and how to prevent it from ever happing.

To end the April schedule with a bang, Family Services has planned a big event on The Green in Wellsboro. Taking place on the 29th, the event will begin with a support walk from 11-12. After the walk, the event will continue with vendors providing important information, activities, a bouncy house, music, and more. All of these important, fun happenings with take place between 11am and 2pm on Saturday, April 29th!

The workers at Family Services take on demanding, difficult, and ultimately important tasks every day. The significance of their post is hard to fathom, yet Tioga County would be infinitely worse off were we to be without their impact!

Be sure to attend the Event On The Green (on the 29th) to find out more about Family Services and child abuse prevention.

Idea/Concept: Amiee Jones
Videography: Erin O’Shea
Video Editing: Erin O’Shea
Writing: Amiee Jones
Anchor: Kristine Worthington
Correspondent: Amiee Jones

Produced by Vogt Media
Funded by UPMC Susquehanna, Matthews Motor Company

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