I cannot explain why Wings for Children was founded without sharing my personal journey.
I worked as a volunteer at Family Court, reviewing prior cases of abuse and neglect to determine the status and follow up.
With that, it was clear that the child abuse laws need a major overhaul. In 1974, I began my work on the Child Protection Act and the Criminal Sexual Conduct Code. They passed in 1977. Both were major overhaul of the laws and are in place today. I was awarded “Citizen of the Year” for that work in 1977 by the S C General Assembly.
As a part of the grassroots effort to develop the bills, I spoke to many professionals and civic groups. It was there that I had many referrals of cases.
I didn’t actually know much about what to do, but quickly built some resources and knowledge of the laws and the systems in place to help children.
It was then that I recognized that S C Department of Social Services were not doing their job to take care of and protect children. Sadly, that is still the case.
I have been a volunteer advocate for children since the 1970’s and that is who I am and what Wings for Children is about. The next chapter. . ..
Often people are more comfortable reporting child abuse and neglect cases with a community organization.
They tend to be afraid that they may report a situation that is not abuse, and they may be responsible for those accusations that could hurt the children and break up the family; they are also very concerned that the family might find out that they reported it and get them in trouble.
When we get such a report, I take as much information as I can get for identification and the specifics. I give them the contact information and assure them that the report is confidential by law. In addition, I tell them that if they feel or suspect something is going on, then it needs to be reported and properly investigated.
Then, I make the report. However, that is third party and really the agencies need to talk more directly to the reporter. That is preferred, but it doesn’t always go that way.
I consider the advantage for reporting to Wings for Children is that I continue to assist the agency and follow up with information and reports to them, as I gather it. That follow up is important. Of course, I have nothing to do with the investigation, except to provide and pass on information. But, I offer as much support and assistance as I can.
Sometimes my involvement continues throughout the agency investigation and law enforcement. Then onto the prosecutors office, hearings and trial.
That hearing/trial could be in Family Court and in Criminal Court. There are different requirements and laws for both.
At times, this process continues past criminal conviction to prison; at that point, on selected cases, I object to release and appear before the Parole/Probation Board.
In addition to abuse and neglect, there are Missing Children. I had my first case of that in 1974 and have continued my work for missing children with working with Senator Strom Thurmond to establish the Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the 1980’s. Which is a great organization.
Then, in 1993, I began Angel Flights. Air transportation for sick and terminally ill children for evaluation and treatment. I know how a small group of pilots that also volunteer their time and use of their own plane to help me.
I have never charged for any service or expense for any reason. We are all volunteers. Whether it is child abuse or neglect; missing children; or Angel Flights. Besides that. . ..
I am very familiar with South Carolina and have done substantial work in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and at least 30 other states and a few countries.
Over these 40+ years of advocacy for children, I have built a number of resources that have offered their help for these children.
For those, I am so thankful.
April 29, 2016