Child advocates push for awareness following child homicide

Mother of 13-day baby makes first court appearance on charges of child homicide

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) -  Parenting help for Maria Sullivan may be too late.

Sullivan and her boyfriend Dylan Kitzmiller are facing child homicide and child abuse charges

Those at the Family Support Center claim this is the 5th child homicide they've been aware of this year.  And news of another child's death is bothersome.

"Every time I hear about one of these kids that are hurt, I wonder if i worked hard enough," said Barbara Stallone, Development Director at the Family Support Center in Taylorsville.

Sullivan made her first court appearance following her arrest in Georgia.  Police claimed she fled after they began investigating the baby's death. Her son was only 13 days old.

Prosecutors claimed Kitamiller actually abused the baby causing his death.

But they say Sullivan knew the baby was being abused.

"Under Utah law, if you are in the care and custody of a child you have a duty to protect that child," said Chief Deputy Salt Lake District Attorney Blake Nakamura.  "And when you fail in that duty and that child gets injured you can be responsible for that conduct."

The number of child abuse cases are staggering according to Stallone.

"In Salt Lake County there were almost 3,800 confirmed victims of abuse in Salt Lake County last year," said Stallone. She said statewide there are more than 9,000 cases of child abuse.

That's why the Family Support Center has offices statewide to help families 24/7 during a moment of crisis.

In Salt lake County alone, Stallone said about 30 children a week come into the center.

"I've been able to get me-time which is really important for single parents," said Chenoa McArthur.

The center in-home parenting programs for families.  Families receive help to improve parenting skills, home management skills and gain access to community resources.
McArthur said in addition to using the crisis nursery, she can leave the children there when she is going on a job search.  And she also said the center isn't just for young parents.

"It's actually for single moms and dads, parents that just need a break," she said.

To learn more about the Family Support Center visit their website.


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