By: Elizabeth Fowler, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Associate

It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic brought a whirlwind of unexpected changes to everyone’s lives, including North Carolina professionals who support children and families. The adjustment from in-person activities to virtual interactions and adaptation to our new reality were difficult obstacles to overcome, but Prevent Child Abuse NC’s Prevention Action Network Members have shown that they are still here and still growing.

Peter Bagley, Executive Director, Children’s Homes of Cleveland County

Membership of the Prevention Action Network offers various opportunities for individuals and agencies to get involved in the work we do at Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC), such as webinars, newsletters, and policy updates. While all members of the network interact with these resources differently, the programs and materials are designed to provide members with the support they need to become more knowledgeable about the upstream approach to prevention and ultimately build capacity in communities across the state.

We chatted with Peter Bagley, the Executive Director of Children’s Homes of Cleveland County, about his experience as a member of the Prevention Action Network. Children’s Homes of Cleveland County has been a dedicated member of the Prevention Action Network since 2008 and Bagley weighed in on his thoughts about how this membership has benefitted the agency, especially during the pandemic.

“It [The Prevention Action Network] is a great source of information for us about what is going on both locally and nationally,” Bagley said.

Every month, members of the Prevention Action Network receive an e-newsletter full of resources and other materials pertaining to child maltreatment prevention. Bagley mentioned that the e-newsletter always rises to the surface of his inbox and provides him and his agency with useful information that helps guide their focus to prevention. Oftentimes, these newsletters are informative about new policy and legislative updates that are relevant to building the safe, stable, nurturing environments that children need to thrive. They also include details about exclusive events including webinars and trainings hosted by PCANC further engaging members of the Prevention Action Network to increase knowledge of and build capacity to promote effective child maltreatment prevention strategies.

Regarding these e-newsletters, Bagley said, “They are always a source of information for us. Actionable sometimes, other times just informational, but either way, they are useful and get shared internally.”

The Prevention Action Network is a resource for a variety of individuals, organizations, and agencies looking to focus on an upstream approach to the prevention of child maltreatment. Whether these groups are already taking steps to prioritize primary prevention, or it is a new outlook, the Prevention Action Network assists professionals and agencies in their effort to become more centered on enhancing the Protective Factors, investing in supports for parents, and building the positive, caring connections that help build resilience and more connected communities where children can thrive.

“The particular lens through which the [Prevention Action Network] looks is especially helpful for us when we are working to pivot our agency to be more prevention-focused,” Bagley said.

Our Prevention Action Network members are especially interested in policy and legislative updates, which is why we prioritize including this material in our e-newsletter and offer resources to learn more. These updates are crucial in ensuring that our network is informed about governmental policies both in-state and at the federal level that are especially relevant to individuals and agencies who work to prevent child abuse.

“The advocacy piece at the legislative level is something that we put a great deal of value in. That, along with the continued stream of information, is the reason that we continue to participate in this network,” Bagley said.

Prevention Action Network membership also supports agencies all around North Carolina in feeling less isolated from one another. At times, it can feel as though different organizations are competing to stay relevant, especially during the pandemic as we are socially distanced and interacting with one another in person less than before.

To combat this, the Prevention Action Network still provides opportunities to bring professionals, agencies, experts and community members together to network and learn from one another.

“It’s just about being less isolated and focused on our own thing and more community-based,” Bagley said.

As our Prevention Action Network continues to grow, PCANC is still here, building community and capacity across the state to make a greater impact, because we know that together, we CAN prevent child abuse, North Carolina!

 

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