Those who work with victims of child abuse and neglect will tell you that often it’s a cycle, beginning with the victims’ parents or even grandparents.
But the staff at Family TIES Gainesville intervene by offering a variety of programs and classes to spread awareness and end the cycle.
Dee Dee Mize, executive director for Family TIES Gainesville, said that this intervention often includes changing a parent’s opinion on discipline.
“Abuse doesn't know your bank account, the car you drive...it is inherently started patterns with families years ago and what we're trying to do is help people recognize when they're making poor choices,” said Mize. “It's about loving your child and being there for your child and not using your child as something that is going to be detrimental and leave such profound trauma down the road because of that.”
Mize said the TIES acronym comes from teaching, informing, educating and supporting today’s family. Some of the Family TIES services include parenting programs, co-parenting programs, individual or family counseling services, anger management classes and family violence classes.
The goal of these services is to talk with parents and change their perspective on caring for a child.
“It’s really interesting when they come in for them to say, ‘Well, this is what my mom did or what my dad did,’ and realizing that the choices they make are going to need to be different,” said Mize. “It’s called having an open mind and it may take several sessions before we can really get through sometimes to folks.”
Mize said that sometimes problems with the parent distract them from a child’s needs, leading to unintentional neglect. She gave a recent example of a mom who was having problems with her child, only to find out shortly after talking to Mize that both parties were dealing with extreme anxiety.
Mize said cases such as this one have become more common during the COVID-19 pandemic, so many of the classes and programs also offer self-care advice for parents.
“If anything, [the pandemic] did nothing but make it more appropriate for what we do in the community and the awareness piece of what needs to happen as far as taking care of our children,” said Mize.
Families come to the non-profit in a variety of ways. Some of these include the local court system, Division of Family and Children Services, school system, co-parenting custody cases, attorneys and word of mouth.
Before a client starts receiving services, they are required to go through an assessment with either Mize or another Family TIES representative. These assessments usually take place over the phone and help Family TIES staff determine a client’s needs as well as, perhaps more importantly, how many sessions.
While these sessions often require a client to meet with Mize in her office, Family TIES staff also visit the Hall County Detention Center to offer classes to inmates.
In order to fund their work, Family TIES staff and volunteers host a couple of fundraisers throughout the year. One of those fundraisers is happening now- it includes several banners placed throughout Hall County with accompanying pinwheels.
The banners and pinwheels are set up each April to raise awareness for Child Abuse Awareness Month. A number to call to report child abuse is listed on the banner as well as sponsors for the fundraiser.
While the fundraiser is a great way to raise awareness for child abuse and neglect, Mize said the best way for the community to truly prevent these horrific issues is to report it.
“I think that one of the things we have to do as a community is that we can’t turn a blind eye when we see a child in need, that we have to say something,” said Mize. “If you know that a child is being neglected or harmed in any way, you do need to report that.”
Anyone with questions or concerns regarding child abuse and neglect can call Family TIES Gainesville at 770-287-3071. More information about the non-profit is on their website.
For Goodness Sake is a monthly series highlighting non-profits in the North Georgia area. Have a non-profit that you would like to see featured? Email the author at [email protected]!