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Many resources despite end of after-hours crisis hotline

T-R photo by Anna Shearer Nikki Hartwig of CAPS in Marshalltown takes some time out of her day to tell a Times-Republican reporter about the 24-hour crisis line. Funding for the line was reduced so it was discontinued on July 1.

Child Abuse Prevention Services has discontinued its after-hours crisis hotline as of July 1, but there is no shortage of resources for families in Marshall County.

The 24-hour crisis line was funded by state and local grants, along with private donations.

According to Nikki Hartwig of CAPS, the line was ended because of a loss in funding.

“Two large funding sources for our Crisis Child Care services are no longer funding crisis child care programming,” she said. “This shortage in funds resulted in us having to make modifications to our programming. Our goal in considering programming options was to ensure that we could still offer Crisis Child Care services in Marshall County.”

Hartwig said crisis care has been funded by other sources, including the Marshalltown Area United Way, the Community Foundation of Marshall County, Students Teaching and Empowering Philanthropy, West Marshall LUCC, Prairie Meadows and Theisen’s Home Farm & Auto.

“These funding sources will allow us to continue to provide Crisis Child Care services, but the reduction in funding resulted in us having to make some tough decisions in order to still keep the program operational with a very limited budget,” she said. “We feel very fortunate that we are still able to offer placements of up to 72 continuous hours in the homes of our caring providers.”

The Crisis Child Care program finds a safe place for children to stay for up to 72 hours when their families are going through a crisis or emergency situation. This could include loss of housing, mental health issues, domestic violence and many other situations in which the caretakers need to address a crisis.

Crisis Child Care providers are either registered daycare providers or have backgrounds in child and human services, and they attend regular trainings.

Hartwig said CAPS staff looked into after-hours usage of the crisis line before making the decision to discontinue the 24-hour crisis line. They did not take the decision lightly. They found that there were few calls made outside of business hours.

These were often people intending to leave a message in order to make a future placement or from law enforcement looking for a placement for a child who was taken out of an unsafe situation.

Hartwig noted that the crisis line could go months without an after-hours phone call, excluding law enforcement removals.

“CAPS has worked with local law enforcement to ensure that Crisis Child Care is still available for the removal of a child after hours, which would include any situation in which law enforcement believes a child is unsafe and needs a short-term alternate place to stay,” she said.

Marshalltown Chief of Police Mike Tupper said law enforcement is usually called when there are signs of neglect or drug abuse. He said it is not uncommon for law enforcement to remove a child from an unsafe environment,

“Unfortunately, it occurs a lot more than we’d like to see it happen,” Tupper said.

He encourages anyone who suspects abuse or neglect to call the police.

Tupper added that Crisis Child Care is a great resource.

“CAPS has provided a valuable service,” he said.

According to Hartwig, there are still plenty of resources for people to use outside of business hours.

“In addition, the community now has access to a 24-hour crisis line that is staffed by telephone counselors, as well as a mobile crisis response team; and our state has a 24-hour child abuse reporting hotline,” Hartwig said.

She mentioned monetary support is imperative to CAPS continuing to serve families in Marshall County.

Donations can be made by sending a check to Child Abuse Prevention Services, 306 S. 17th Ave., Marshalltown, IA 50158 or through PayPal on their website at www.capsonline.us.

“We are so appreciative of our community’s care and concern for the well-being of children and families, and want to extend a huge thank you to all who support us and our mission!” she said.

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Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or shearer@timesrepublican.com

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