Sharon McKinley and Julie Fliss, Child Welfare Program Specialists, Office on Child Abuse and Neglect
At the Children's Bureau's Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), we support efforts that strengthen families so that children are safe in their homes. We also recognize that supportive, thriving communities are key to preventing child maltreatment. That's why the focus for this year's 2018 National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) is "Keeping Children Safe and Families Strong in Supportive Communities."
The Children’s Bureau funds Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) programs which develop, operate, expand, enhance, and coordinate initiatives to prevent child abuse and neglect on a local level across the nation. CBCAP State Lead Agencies partner with state and local organizations to provide comprehensive support services to families and children. CBCAP funds many services including home visiting, parent education and support programs, family resource centers, respite care, and fatherhood programs.
CBCAP also helps address basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter because, when families struggle, their ability to support their children’s healthy development may be at risk. These situations also cause stress that can put children at greater risk for abuse or neglect.
High Sierra Family Services in Sierra County, California, uses CBCAP funding from the California Department of Social Services to support families in addressing their concrete, basic needs with resources like a food pantry, clothing donations, transportation vouchers, and emergency utility and rental assistance. They also link parents with other community agencies and programs. When basic needs are met, families are better equipped to ensure the safety and well-being of their children.
The 2018 Prevention Resource Guide has much more information about protective factor approaches in child welfare. The Guide is produced annually for National Child Abuse Prevention Month to support service providers in their work with parents, caregivers, and their children to prevent child maltreatment and promote child and family well-being. This year’s guide includes new information on adverse childhood experiences; new state examples highlighting CBCAP programs that offer resources that promote parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports; and details on how CBCAP programs address other protective factors, including nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and child development, parental resilience, social connections, and social and emotional competence of children.
Strong families are the result of strong communities. During this month we recognize the efforts of all the practitioners across the country who are helping prevent child abuse and neglect through strengthening their own communities. We will all keep working until children in all our communities have the safe, stable, and nurturing environments necessary for success from childhood through adulthood.