S’Klallam elder joins fight against child abuse

KINGSTON — Darlene Peters has added another dish to what is an already full plate.

But when it comes to helping kids, the S’Klallam elder and North Kitsap School District psychologist just can’t help herself. Peters has been named to the Governor’s Committee on Child Abuse, where she will help distribute grants to counties and agencies across Washington State. The same committee awarded the S’Klallam Tribe a grant several years ago for a child-abuse prevention program that still continues in the North End.

For Peters, who has served on several committees, the task was too important to turn down.

“I’ve witnessed or taken care of children through many, many abuse

situations. They’re helpless, and they need the community to help them,” Peters said. “They need adults to be responsible when other adults are not responsible.”

The committee meets four times a year, with the next meeting scheduled for May 31. Members mull over grant proposals and other ways to help communities prevent child abuse.

When she first met with the committee, Peters heard about a program near Montesano where the community contributed matching funds to help build a shelter for abused women and children.

“It was wonderful to hear the impact of that kind of program,” she explained.

At first, Peters said she was encouraged to apply for other committees, but they were not funded. So she landed at the child-abuse committee, which survived state budget cuts thanks to intense lobbying from across the state. Peters has also served with the Indian Child welfare board and the Washington State Counselors Association, among others.

“I choose my committees very carefully... it gets fatiguing,” she said.

The committee on child abuse is funded by marriage license fees.

Peters, who can also track her lineage to the Suquamish Tribe, has been with the North Kitsap School District for two years and spent 13 years in

the Evergreen School District in Vancouver.

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