5280 frequently reports on child welfare issues, and in that reporting, we uncover some disturbing statistics. For example, 60 percent of kids end up homeless, in jail, or dead within two years of leaving foster care. Nearly 1,800 kids die every year in the U.S. from abuse and neglect. One in seven boys, and one in three girls, will be sexually abused by 18. Most recently, a Denver Post article reported on Colorado’s reforms to a child welfare program that’s witnessed 43 child deaths in the past five years.
All of that bad news is why organizations like Mount Saint Vincent Home, a center that rehabs Colorado kids who face intense trauma and abuse, are so important. Started in 1883, MSVH believes every kid has his or her own set of needs, so the clinical staff creates personalized treatment plans for each child that may provide daycare, schooling, or even residential living.
But the personalized care doesn’t stop there. Because abuse often happens in cycles, MSVH care is cyclical. Once kids return to their biological or foster homes, MSVH stays in touch to provide therapy for the whole family, teach parenting skills to moms and dads, and continue psychiatric care for abused kids. To date, the center has cared for at least 18,000, despite stop-and-go budgets and an often hard-to-navigate child welfare system.
Kirk Ward, MSVH’s clinical director says that once we've ensured the immediate safety of kids, making sure we treat kids in their own communities is a priority. "Community connections," he says, "are an essential part of the child's process because a child who does not feel a positive connection will have a much harder time doing well." Above all, he warns, those connections need to be safe and healthy ones. In a community like ours, there are many ways to become one of those connections. Sometimes it takes just one person to affect the cycle of abuse—and to redirect a child’s path.
Get Involved: Plan on supporting one of MSVH's big summer events. The home's annual fundraising golf tournament is on June 28, and MSVH is renting out the Denver Zoo for a private event with the kids on August 15. Can't wait? Channel your inner child and plan a volunteer event with the kids in April or May—maybe a spring fling dance, mini Olympics, or a pre-summer fair. Visit MSVH's website for more details.