UNION — Children’s Attention Home Volunteer Coordinator Janet Knight served as the guest speaker during Wednesday’s meeting of the Union County Human Resources Association.
The Children’s Attention Home — located in Rock Hill — is a refuge for children and adolescents across South Carolina who have been abused (physically or sexually), abandoned and/or neglected.
Knight, who has been employed with the Children’s Attention Home for the past 11 years, said she discovered the home after applying for a six-week clerical position there in 2001. She described her first visit as an eye opener. She said she knew this type of abuse was going on in big cities, but had no idea it was going on in small towns.
Knight described various situations from which the children at the home are taken. She said some children come in with broken bones, and some are abandoned in cars or at churches. She also described a baby who came in wearing a body cast because the parents had been fighting and one of them fell on the child. She mentioned that other babies have come in with shaken baby syndrome. She said a teenager once came in after being tied to a building and beaten with leather straps.
“These children’s scars are deep,” Knight said. “They are exactly like our children. The only difference is they didn’t get that unconditional love.”
Knight explained that while the home receives government funding, 50-75 percent of every dollar comes from private donations, which go toward the purchase of food, clothing, toiletries and other necessities for the children and adolescents at the home.
“They have time to get nothing before they come to the home,” Knight said, explaining that the children have to leave home without their personal belongings.
“One 10-year-old boy didn’t even have time to get his glasses. We called the Lions Club and they provided glasses for him.”
Knight also said the children come from all socioeconomic classes.
“Everybody thinks it’s only poor children, or only black children, or only Hispanic children,” Knight said. “They’re all colors, from all backgrounds.”
Knight said that in the past few years, there have been 18 children from Union County who have lived at the home.
The children who come to the home come from a contract the home has with DSS, and they are technically in DSS custody. Knight said most of the children want to sign themselves out of DSS custody when they turn 18, but the Children’s Attention Home highly discourages that. She said they can stay there until they are 22 as long as they are in school.
“They can graduate high school with us. They can graduate college with us,” Knight said. “That way, they can have support until they get their education.”
Knight also mentioned that two of the home’s residents are currently in college, one of whom wants to be an attorney.
Knight also gave an overview of the history of the Children’s Attention Home, explaining that although it is not a faith-based home, it was founded by three ministers in 1970. When one of the ministers visited a jail, he met a young boy who had run away to the jail, seeking safety after having been badly beaten.
Knight closed by reading a poem entitled “My Street,” which was written by a 16-year-old resident of the Children’s Attention Home who went on to become a social worker.
Those who would like to learn more about the home — such as volunteer information or items that are needed for donation — can do so by visiting www.attentionhome.org.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.