County child abuse organization receiving state recognition

GREENFIELD — After months of preparation, a new group aimed at impeding child abuse in the county is taking the final steps to becoming a state-recognized organization.

Prevent Child Abuse Hancock County officially has joined more than 40 prevention councils across the state; this week, the group’s leaders plan to announce the local partnership with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, a move they say will connect them with resources to make a more significant impact in the county.

Those eager to form the new organization began meeting regularly in February. In June, they selected the chapter’s officers, and those leaders say they are ready to make a positive impact on the community.

Organizers said the group’s mission is to educate its neighbors about children’s issues in Hancock County.

They will work to keep informed and connect families with help when needed.

They have assembled a team of more than 30 community stakeholders who can offer different viewpoints on child abuse and neglect here, including health care providers, educators and representatives from local law enforcement.

Assembling a group with a range of perspectives was done purposely, said Theresa Lueder, the organization’s co-chair.

“It’s really neat to have people from so many walks of life come together,” Lueder said. “This helps us better understand what the county needs.”

Lueder and Diane Burklow were voted by group members to serve as the co-chairs for the organization.

Lueder is a registered nurse and director of the women’s and children’s department at Hancock Regional Hospital, and Burklow is a longtime social worker. Both women said their desire to help create and lead the organization came after years watching children grow, develop and face obstacles.

Prevent Child Abuse Indiana entrusts its county chapters to take the lead in stopping the mistreatment of children in their area, said Mary Armstrong-Smith, the state’s community partners director. Chapters are called on to host programs that promote child safety and address issues specific to their communities.

Becoming a recognized chapter of the state organization gives the group direct access to the state and national Prevent Child Abuse organization, which connects local groups to resources and support, Armstrong-Smith said.

“We believe preventing child abuse is a collective effort,” she said. “All different things come into play when making a community safer.”

Armstrong-Smith has been helping to guide Prevent Child Abuse Hancock County as it works to get on its feet. She’s helped train group members to talk about child abuse and develop partnerships with other nonprofits.

One of the hardest things for group members to do is approach a parent or guardian who might need to find assistance for their child, Armstrong-Smith said. Those inquiries are necessary but tough because some adults think asking for help makes them a bad parent, she said.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said.

As the organization continues to grow, Burklow said she hopes the group will become an essential part of Hancock County’s family of nonprofits.

“With the group of people we have, I think we can do that,” she said.

Get involved

For more information about Prevent Child Abuse Hancock County, an organization that seeks to educate the public about issues affecting children, call 317-775-6424.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or