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Child Maltreatment Prevention: A Public Responsibility

Child Maltreatment Prevention: A Public Responsibility

Posted: April 30, 2021 By: Catherine Joyner, Executive Director of the Division of Public Health’s Child Abuse Prevention Leadership Team When you think about public health, what do you envision? Maybe you think of healthy eating and exercise or washing your hands and covering your mouth when you cough. And while you would not be wrong, I encourage you to take a step back with me to look at public health’s role in preventing child maltreatment. For me, public health looks like quality time spent reading to a child, a safe and affordable roof over your head, abundant and nutritious food on the table, the dependable paycheck from a family-friendly workplace, the nurturing educators who build positive brain connections and the neighbors who support you when you need a little help. The future health and well-being of our communities, our families, and ourselves relies on the healthy growth and development of today’s children. As adults we are responsible for ensuring all children have the safe, stable, nurturing, and healthy environments they need to thrive. Because when children have supportive, loving connections, relationships, and experiences, their brain architecture is built in a healthy way, forming a solid foundation for future growth and development. But Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), like child abuse and neglect, disrupt healthy brain architecture and cause a toxic stress reaction to occur in the child’s brain. Harmful chemicals flood the child’s brain and body resulting in long-term social, emotional, and health consequences. In fact, ACEs are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life. Dr. Robert Block, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, ”ACEs are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.” But we know child maltreatment is a preventable problem. If we want to build the supportive communities and strong families needed for a healthy future, we must address child maltreatment through a public health approach to prevent the negative health outcomes associated with child maltreatment. A public health approach adopts three levels of prevention strategies: primary, secondary, and tertiary. While there are critical programs and services that address child maltreatment after it occurs or offer support to families who are at risk for abuse, they lie in the realm secondary and tertiary prevention. Our work, in partnership with Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, is focused upstream in the primary prevention of child maltreatment. Primary prevention emphasizes systemic change to improve outcomes for entire populations by preventing risk factors, like parental stress, and increasing protective factors, such as parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports for parents. What does this mean for you and me? It means addressing social determinants of health and disparities across all demographics that place children at risk for child maltreatment, at the community and societal levels. It means fostering cross-sector collaborations to implement effective upstream strategies to preventing child maltreatment. It means investing dollars in the proven strategies, programs and policies that build strong families and communities, like economic supports for families, quality care and education early in life, and changing social norms around supports for parents and positive parenting. It means widespread understanding and adoption of strategies that improve health outcomes for all. Together, we CAN Prevent Child Abuse, North Carolina.  Let’s build a healthy future for North Carolina, today. Join Prevent Child Abuse NC’s newsletter to take the first step in learning how you can be a connection for children and…

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021: 10 Ways YOU Can Be A Connection for NC’s Children

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021: 10 Ways YOU Can Be A Connection for NC’s Children

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP Month), a national campaign with a focus on local-level advocacy through statewide initiatives. In North Carolina, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) leads the statewide CAP Month Campaign with the belief that April is a time for all communities to come together to build caring connections, supportive environments, and positive experiences for all children. That belief is more vital than ever as families still grapple with the challenges inflicted by COVID-19 and ongoing social injustice. We know that times of crises puts families under great stress and can lead to significant increases in the risk of child maltreatment. But we also know that child maltreatment is a preventable, solvable problem. Science shows us that the prevalence of Protective Factors in families and communities helps strengthen families and reduce the risk of child maltreatment and positive connections help building healthy brains, sturdy foundations, social connections, and resilience at any age. That’s why we’re focusing CAP Month 2021 on amplifying the ways in which we all can support children and families. Here are a few ways you can be a connection during Child Abuse Prevention Month: *You can find tools and resources to support your efforts in all of these activities below by visiting our Child Abuse Prevention Month 2021 Online Toolkit. Participate in Wear Blue Day on Thursday, April 1 Wear blue, take a photo, and share on social media with the hashtags: #WearBlueDay2021 & #BeAConnection Participate in the #BeAConnection Campaign April 11-17th To participate, download a #BeAConnection signand talking points. Then, take a video or photo sharing your story of the power of connection. You can share a story about someone who was a positive connection and helped you over come tough times by simply being there for you. Or, share a story about a program, policy, or service in your community that supported you and your family in times of need. Share your video or photo on social media with the hashtag: #BeAConnection any day the week of April 11th -17th. Download our CAPM Social Media Calendar Share graphics and pre-written posts from our CAPM Social Media Calendar on your social media channels. Update your cover photos and website banners to recognize CAP Month. Be sure to check out our Facebook Profile Frame and the Pinwheel Selfie Frame, too. All of these tools can be found in the Child Abuse Prevention Month Online Toolkit under the “CAPM 2021 Social Media Toolkit” dropdown. Participate in National Child Abuse Prevention Digital Advocacy Day Let’s make sure that our lawmakers at home and in Washington, DC, know we believe in family-friendly policies and programs that benefit children and their caregivers. Use hashtags: #CAPMonth #BeAConnection and more. Learn more about PCANC’s Policy Priorities and stay tuned to our social media for more info. Host a Connected Communities, Connected Congregations Children’s Sabbath Celebration Connections Matter in NC faith communities. Plan a Children’s Sabbath Celebration and learn how the everyday connections you make help prevent child maltreatment. Change your Zoom Background Get the downloadable graphic from our Child Abuse Prevention Month Online Toolkit under the “Proclamations & Other Resources” drop down. Visit our Covid-19 Resources for Families, Communities & Agencies In partnership with NC Department of Health and Human Services, we developed a COVID-19 Parent & Caregiver Guide with an accompanying COVID-19 Social Media Toolkit for agencies across the state to share resources with parents. Take a Free Online Training on Preventing Child Maltreatment There are two self-guided trainings: What is Prevention? and Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment. PCANC provides these courses, to North Carolina citizens free of charge through support from the North Carolina Division of Social Services and the generosity of our supporters. Get Your Kids First License Plate The Kids First license plate was created to directly benefit The North Carolina Children’s Trust Fund (NC CTF) which helps strengthen families and communities by providing funds for programs that strengthen NC families. Kids First license plate sales help bring evidence-based family strengthening programs to more families and communities. Learn about North Carolina’s Mandatory Reporting and Safe Surrender Laws All North Carolina adults are required by law to report suspected child maltreatment. North Carolina’s Safe Surrender Law allows a parent to leave their infant (up to 7 days old) with any responsible adult, legally and anonymously. For more information about Child Abuse Prevention Month, contact PCANC Communications Manager Kris Demers at…

PAN Member Spotlight: Ginger Espino, SAFEchild

PAN Member Spotlight: Ginger Espino, SAFEchild

In the PAN Member Spotlight monthly series, hear from Prevent Child Abuse NC’s (PCANC) PAN members, learn about their work, and what inspires them and their partnership with PCANC to help build safe, stable, nurturing environments in North Carolina!

For our fourth PAN Member Spotlight, we introduce Ginger Espino, MSW, Community Engagement and Training Coordinator at SAFEchild, a child abuse prevention agency in Raleigh, NC. As a PAN member, Espino embodies the importance and prevalence of Protective Factors that help strengthen families and prevent abuse from ever occurring in Wake County.

2021 Learning & Leadership Summit Keynote Announcement

2021 Learning & Leadership Summit Keynote Announcement

Prevent Child Abuse NC’s (PCANC) 2021 Learning & Leadership Virtual Summit: Investing Upstream – Prioritizing Prevention will feature two keynote presentations to help move our work in child maltreatment prevention to the next level – upstream! Get to know our keynotes today!

PAN Member Spotlight: Myca Jeter, Access Family Services

PAN Member Spotlight: Myca Jeter, Access Family Services

For our third PAN Member Spotlight, we introduce Myca Jeter, Foster Care Director at Access Family Services. Jeter has worked in child welfare for over 17 years and can’t remember a time without Pinwheels for Prevention, child abuse prevention walks and awareness activities, or dedicating her work to improving the lives of NC’s children and families! Get to know more about her below!

St. Stephen Congregation: Giving Thanks and Giving Back to the Families of NC

St. Stephen Congregation: Giving Thanks and Giving Back to the Families of NC

The holidays are looking a lot different this year, but that is not stopping congregants at St. Stephen A.M.E. Church in Wilmington, North Carolina, from working together to build a stronger community within New Hanover County. Reverend Thomas O. Nixon noted that he started a Thanksgiving Day worship service 25 years ago, a tradition he has brought to every church, with the purpose of bringing to light what the day should truly reflect – giving thanks and helping others in need within the community.

PAN Member Spotlight: Jessica Stokes, NC Council of Churches

PAN Member Spotlight: Jessica Stokes, NC Council of Churches

Posted: October 27, 2020 In the Prevention Action Network (PAN) Member Spotlight monthly series, hear from Prevent Child Abuse NC’s (PCANC) PAN members, learn about their work, and what inspires them and their partnership with PCANC to help build safe, stable, nurturing environments in North Carolina!  For our second PAN Member Spotlight, we introduce Jessica Stokes, Associate Director of Partners in Health and Wholeness with a statewide focus on mental health advocacy. Partners in Health and Wholeness is a program of the North Carolina Council of Churches.  October 19th through 23rd, PCANC, Institute of Emerging Issues and NC Council of Churches held a week-long webinar series, Strengthening + Connecting, to educate about the science behind the importance of strengthening and connecting families, congregations, and communities, but also to offer a space to share and learn from each other. Watch Jessica talk about the intersection of faith communities and building resilient communities and strong families where children can thrive. Missed any of the Strengthening & Connecting Webinar sessions? Watch them on your own time below! Introduction to the 5 Protective Factors Webinar Recording We encourage you to view this before watching any of our Open Conversations! Link to recording Please take our Intro to the 5 Protective Factors Survey Day 1: Parental Resilience- Mental Well-Being Open Conversation with Faith Leaders and Experts Webinar Recording Link to Recording Day 2: Social Emotional Competence of Children Recording Link to Recording Day 3: Knowledge of Parents and Child Development Recording Link to Recording Day 4: Concrete Supports Recording Link to Recording Day 5: Social Connections Recording Link to Recording Meet Our Webinar Speakers Here Virtual Town-hall with Faith Leaders on Connection Link to Recording Learn how your congregation can use Connections Matter to build positive connections, a resilient community, and strong families. Contact Tracey O’Neal, PCANC’s Partnership Engagement Manager at toneal@preventchildabusenc.org. JOIN THE PREVENTION ACTION NETWORK The Prevention Action Network is an affiliation of agencies and individuals who are invested in developing safe, stable, nurturing relationships for all North Carolina children. Joining the Prevention Action Network gives you or your agency access to trainings, research, and statistics, as well as a network of other professionals and citizens who are also committed to ensuring all of North Carolina’s children and families remain strong. Learn more and join today!…

Connecting the Dots: Child Care, Child Maltreatment Prevention and a Thriving Economy Part 3: Why ECE Builds Strong Families

Connecting the Dots: Child Care, Child Maltreatment Prevention and a Thriving Economy Part 3: Why ECE Builds Strong Families

Posted: August 28, 2020 By: Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina and Child Care Services Association  This is the final blog of this three-part blog series. Read Part 1: What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it? and Part 2: The ECE Role in Preventing Child Maltreatment – and Why it is Critical During the Pandemic.  Early Care and Education (ECE) is a source of Protective Factors for children. Protective Factors are conditions in families and communities that, when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. These attributes serve as buffers, helping parents find resources, support or coping strategies that allow them to parent effectively, even under stress. Research has shown that the Protective Factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect. Because quality ECE programs are staffed and built around knowledge of child development, they are providing a critical protective factor. Children thrive when caregivers provide not only affection, but also respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations and safe opportunities that promote independence. Successful caregiving by ECE teachers and parents fosters psychological adjustment, helps children succeed in school, encourages curiosity about the world and motivates children to achieve. Children’s early experiences of being nurtured and developing a positive relationship with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. Research shows that babies who receive affection and nurturing from their parents and caregivers have the best chance of healthy development. A child’s relationship with a consistent, caring adult in the early years is associated later in life with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, more positive peer interactions and an increased ability to cope with stress. We know that families who can meet their own basic needs for food, clothing, housing and transportation—and who know how to access essential services such as child care, health care and mental health services to address family-specific needs—are better able to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. Many ECE programs partner with parents to identify and access resources in the community which may help prevent the stress that sometimes precipitates child maltreatment. Providing concrete supports, a key Protective Factor, may also help prevent the unintended neglect that sometimes occurs when parents are unable to provide for their children. Parents with a social network of emotionally supportive friends, family and neighbors often find that it is easier to care for their children and themselves. Now, while most of us are staying physically isolated to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, some parents find the connection to their ECE teacher is a connection to someone they trust, rely on and who can offer advice or concrete support. Research has shown that parents who are isolated, with few social connections, are at higher risk for child abuse and neglect. Protective Factors are built in to ECE programs, providing a support system that builds strong families. Quality, affordable child care is foundation to building strong families, resilient children, caring communities and economic prosperity into the future. Resources: Learn more about the Protective Factors. Take the Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment Course. Learn more about Connections Matter NC.  This blog is also published by Child Care Services Association. Child Care Services Association works to ensure affordable, accessible, high quality child care for all families through research, services and advocacy. We are a leader and advocate in child care services on the local, state and national level. We collaborate with many partners, businesses and stakeholders to address needs within the child care…

Connecting the Dots: Child Care, Child Maltreatment Prevention and a Thriving Economy Part 3: Why ECE Builds Strong Families

Connecting the Dots: Child Care, Child Maltreatment Prevention and a Thriving Economy Part 2: The ECE Role in Preventing Child Maltreatment – and Why it is Critical During the Pandemic

Posted: August 26, 2020 By: Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina and Child Care Services Association  This is the second post of a three-part blog series. Read Part 1 of this series: What is ECE and Why Should We Invest in it? Read Part 3 of this series: Why ECE Builds Strong Families High quality Early Care and Education (ECE) programs create safe, stable, nurturing environments, proven to prevent child maltreatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend investing in quality child care as a key strategy to prevent child maltreatment in their Essentials for Childhood technical assistance package. Quality, affordable ECE programs allow parents to focus on work to provide for their family. Young children receive two meals and a snack each day. Many programs screen children for health and developmental concerns. Teachers observe children, using those observations to plan curriculum, support children’s needs and when necessary, make reports if they suspect maltreatment or neglect. Families are recognized as partners in their children’s care and parents are listened to and respected. High quality programs promote child health and safety by understanding the challenges their families are facing, connecting them to local resources or assisting them in creating and maintaining healthy environments for their children. Most importantly, ECE teachers are a trusted, knowledgeable source of information about the stages of child development and expectations for children’s behavior for many parents. Unfortunately, the ECE system was broken long before COVID-19 struck because the economics do not work. Parents cannot afford the real cost of care, causing wage suppression.  Programs struggle to stay afloat. They are often one emergency away from closing. As a society, we are not investing in the ECE system the way we invest in subsidizing the public K-12 and university systems, yet the early childhood years build the foundation for future educational success. More than 50 percent of the state’s highest quality rated ECE programs (4- and 5- stars) and 30 percent of all programs were closed at the end of June[1]. Those open were operating at less than full capacity; enrollment is down 67 percent nationally, and statewide, we are at 53 percent capacity. At the same time expenses are increasing, including 73 percent of programs spending more money on payroll to meet smaller group sizes  as required. With razor-thin operating margins before COVID-19, this is fast approaching a disaster. Programs will not be able to survive, leaving families without care, striking a blow to our workforce and our economy. Many working parents will be forced to make hard choices. In some families, older siblings will have to drop out of school to care for younger children, school age children will come home to empty homes or in too many cases, families will be forced to rely on unstable and unsafe situations where their children’s health and safety may be endangered. We can prevent this. We know how to create quality, affordable child care. In fact, the U.S. military has been doing it for decades. If we recognize ECE as a necessity for working families and support it with federal, state and local dollars (as we do with our K-12 and public university systems), not only will children and families thrive, so will our economy. [1] DCDEE, July 2020. This blog is also published by Child Care Services Association. Child Care Services Association works to ensure affordable, accessible, high quality child care for all families through research, services and advocacy. We are a leader and advocate in child care services on the local, state and national level. We collaborate with many partners, businesses and stakeholders to address needs within the child care…