Child abuse and neglect are not pleasant topics of conversation, admits Shelly Straughan. However, as a foster home certifier for the state Department of Human Resources, she says that it is important to realize there is a problem.

Last year the DHS Child Welfare received 104 calls of concern about child safety.

Of these referrals, full child protective service assessments were completed on 42, and 13 of the 42 were determined to be abuse, neglect or a serious threat of harm. Out of the 19 children involved in these 13 founded cases, four needed out-of-home placement. Including three full-time placement of teen-agers, that brings the total number of children using foster care in Wallowa County in 2002 to seven.

Because the problem does exist here, the DHS Child Welfare Program needs to expand its pool of available foster parents, and anyone interested is asked to attend a preservice training to be held on four days in the first two Tuesdays and Thursdays in April.

The sessions are scheduled at the Prairie Creek Center in Enterprise from 5:30-8:45 p.m., Tuesday, April 1; Thursday, April 3; Tuesday, April 8; and Thursday, April 10. Attendance is required at all four sessions because different topics are covered each night, but if someone is unable to attend them all, alternate arrangements can be made to complete the 12-hours preservice training requirement.

For more information and to register to attend, contact Straughan, 426-4558, Ext. 229.

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