What do you think when you see this picture? A proud, loving father. A caring, protective father. A guy who would do anything to keep his precious daughter safe.
That’s what James Motz of Surprise thought he was doing when he went to extraordinary lengths — near superhuman lengths, some would say — to make sure his baby girl would be in safe hands once he and his wife returned to work following her birth.
They had looked at some child care centers as they considered their options. They interviewed some nannies. Nothing felt right. Then some family members came to mind. The husband had lost his job; the couple had declared bankruptcy and were losing their home. Maybe, James thought, he could do something to help them that would also solve his own dilemma. Who better than family to love and care for his daughter?
He found his brother-in-law a job. He hired his sister-in-law to take care of then 3-month-old Lillian. He even bought a house for the couple. It was just down the street from his own. It was a spec home and it wasn’t cheap. But James was 24 and making $350,000 a year. To him, it was an investment well worth making.
Phoenix writer Mary L. Holden won an Arizona Press Club award for writing the story of what happened next — and what happens all to often in what should be a safe and trusting environment.
Before she was 5 months old, Lily was in the hospital, a victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Her dad’s confidence that he could protect her was shaken, too.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Child advocates around the state have chosen to commemorate it by launching a new awareness campaign to help parents choose safe caregivers.
“Who Do You Trust With Your Child?” is a joint effort involving the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Arizona Coordinated Prevention Campaign, Childhelp, Southwest Human Development, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Prevent Child Abuse, among others.
A dedicated website at childhelp.org/mychild directs parents to resources. A hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) is operated by trained staff who can answer questions about safe caregivers and make referrals to specific resources.
“Unsafe caregivers are often someone we know,” says Mark Klym, MPA, program coordinator for the division of Children Youth and Families at DES.