Holiday issues no different for children in social services

GREENVILLE – Children who have been brought under the oversight of Darke County Job & Family Social Services didn’t seem to have any more holiday issues than any other child might have, according to Becky James, program administrator.

“I know there are bad things that sometimes come out during the holidays,” she said, “but I haven’t experienced them here.” She noted there are many factors involved… a hospital stay, loss of a loved one, removal from the home… all could be a time for sadness during the season. “Some children are more resilient than others,” she added. “Much depends on their age and when the incident happened.” She noted it would impact a “little one” who understands more than it would an infant; also a teen who has memories. “We rely on our foster homes, case workers, teachers… Sunday school teachers to provide support.”

James noted the holidays can be a sad time for many people – child or adult – and can often be seen in frequently occurring behavioral issues. “Children respond differently to grief,” she said. “They can be angry, aggressive, restless, lose focus or energy… their sleeping or eating habits can be interrupted.”

Similar to adults? “Yes and no.” She added adults can be silent about it; won’t talk. “Children will tell you things… sometimes you never know what’s going to come out of their mouths. You need to let them know it’s okay to feel that way. They have permission to grieve… it’s okay.”

The Darke County agency worked in some capacity with approximately 2,000 people in 2014. Sometime removal from the home was involved, or protective services (the children don’t have to leave) or simply making reports (from phone calls and office visits).

“Typically the phone calls (and office visits) are easily handled,” James said. The ones that have to be checked out often require substantial follow-up. “About 65 percent of our contacts require follow-up,” she added.

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