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2020 vision for North Carolina’s children and families

2020 vision for North Carolina’s children and families

Posted January 13, 2020 By: Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC President & CEO This year Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) begins its sixth decade of working in prevention to build awareness of proven solutions, policy change, and quality program implementation to prevent child abuse from ever occurring. We have a few big goals for 2020. We know that prevention happens in partnership and we’ll need your help to achieve them: Connections Matter with policy makers. Join us this year in asking candidates for County Commissioner, City Council, state legislative, statewide and Congressional races about their platforms to support and strengthen families to prevent child abuse. While we never endorse candidates, we do work to provide facts, resources and information to equip our elected officials to support proven prevention policies and programs, like paid family and medical leave and home visiting programs.  We aim to educate policy makers during election season about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), Protective Factors and policies proven to build connections for prevention.  With your help, our hope is that when they are in office, they will support policies and fund programs that build safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments based on proven evidence. Connections Matter with our Prevention Action Network. We are committed to listening to you more in 2020. What are your challenges, hopes and dreams? We know prevention happens locally in families and communities. How can PCANC support you better in your work at the local level?  Look for us to hold some regional training and informal events across the state to connect with you. Connections Matter with our donors and funders. We cannot be successful without the support of our donors. You make our work possible. We will be holding gatherings across the state to connect with our long-term supporters – and to make new friends.  Ask us to come to your community or consider hosting a friend-raising event with us! Connections Matter with our partners. We cannot do our work alone – it takes a network of committed child advocates who understand that there are many sectors, policies and programs needed to help families and children thrive. We’re especially grateful for partners in the nonprofit child advocacy sector, faith community and at the Department of Health and Human Services.  We’re committed to working in partnership because everyone has a role to play. As we know, the science of ACEs and toxic stress has taught all of us that what happens in childhood lasts a lifetime. Join us upstream in this next decade to build the policy, program and family environments that science has proven build safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments that prevent child abuse and neglect from happening. Because what happens in childhood lasts a lifetime. Kick off 2020 by investing upstream to prevent child maltreatment…

Childhood lasts a lifetime and we’re forever grateful!

Childhood lasts a lifetime and we’re forever grateful!

Posted December 16, 2019 By: Kris Demers, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Manager At Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, we envision a future where all children grow up in safe, stable and nurturing environments and have positive experiences with caring adults. We believe that ALL adults can be a positive connection in their community just by being their self. Whether you are a member of our Prevention Action Network, a donor who supports us with monetary donations, a professional who works with children and families and leans on us for support, a partner who helps drive this critical work forward, or simply someone who believes that prevention is possible and does all they can to support our mission – we thank you. As our 40th anniversary year comes to a close and a new decade lies at our doorstep, a few of our staff and board members wanted to share how grateful they are for your support throughout the years….

Forging strong families with economic supports

Forging strong families with economic supports

Published: December 18, 2019 By: Kris Demers, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Manager As we head into a new decade, there is an opportunity for employers and policymakers to strategically improve outcomes for future generations. New science is here to lead the way as we work together in partnership to forge a new path for healthier, stronger families and communities. The science is clear: children who are raised in safe, stable, nurturing environments are more likely to grow up to become more productive, prosperous workers who help create supportive, healthy communities. The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Vital Signs report, authored by Prevent Child Abuse America CEO, Dr. Melissa Merrick, provides the first U.S. estimates of how preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – including child maltreatment – and associated trauma has the potential to reduce chronic diseases, risky health behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges. Responses from more than 144,000 adults in the report led authors to conclude: ACEs are common—more than half of respondents experienced at least one type of ACE, and one in six reported four or more types of ACEs. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems – at least five of the top 10 leading causes of death are all associated with ACEs: heart disease, cancer respiratory diseases, diabetes, and suicide. ACEs are linked to mental health conditions – preventing ACEs could reduce the number of adults with depression by as much as 44% – up to 21 million cases. ACEs are linked to socio-economic challenges including reduced educational and occupational achievement, unemployment, and lack of health insurance. ACEs are preventable – while it might not be possible to avoid every ACE, there are many opportunities to prevent ACEs from happening in the first place. Preventing ACEs has the potential to reduce leading causes of death and have a positive impact on health, education and employment levels. The Way Forward The CDC highlights solutions for creating safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children, families and communities, which is essential to preventing ACEs. Among these solutions is shifting the focus from individual responsibility to community responsibility by building solutions such as economic supports for families, family friendly work policies, like paid leave and flexible work schedules, and earned income tax credits. It’s good for business: Family-friendly workplaces give employers a competitive edge by attracting and retaining talent, improving worker productivity, increasing employee loyalty, and keeping more women in the workforce. When businesses invest in their employees, they are investing in their bottom line. It’s good for families: When employees are supported, they are better able to provide the positive, nurturing experiences and environments their children need for healthy brain development. When parents are better able to care for their children, we’re helping raise the next generation of workers, parents, and leaders. It’s good for our economy: These policies are essential to improve child and family health and well-being which ultimately benefits our state’s current and future economy. Watch how these family-friendly workplaces in North Carolina are leading by example. When communities come together to support children and families, we all benefit: our fellow citizens are better educated, employees are more effective and miss less work, and we’ll see a profound impact on the quality of life in the communities in which families live. We urge North Carolina businesses to support the health and well-being of their employees and their families. To learn more about family friendly practices, please visit Family Forward NC….

Connections Matter in the classroom and beyond

Connections Matter in the classroom and beyond

Posted December 17, 2019 By: Shannon McAllister, executive director of CARE Child Abuse Resource and Education, The John 3:16 Center Do you have someone in your life that you can trust? A person who will “go to bat” for you, or simply listen and allow you to vent? Someone who will share your joy when something wonderful happens? If you do, or perhaps even more so if you do not, you know that Connections Matter. There is something that happens when we can authentically connect with someone else, sharing excitement, frustration, grief, or a myriad other feelings and experiences. Knowing that someone cares is meaningful. The Connections Matter curriculum and initiative underscores this in so many ways. It conveys not only how various forms of trauma affect brain development, reactions, and the ability to learn, but also how positive relationships are healing. In other words, regardless of what you have been through, there is HOPE—your trauma does not define you, and you can be resilient. I think the first time the importance of connection really registered was while I was student-teaching to complete my bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at Wingate University. The fifth-grade class to which I was assigned was referred to as “challenging” and I was thankful to have a supportive and experienced supervising teacher, as well as support from the School of Education faculty. One of the things I quickly found was that the students who had the biggest behavior challenges were experiencing difficult events at home. Their experiences were affecting their ability to perform in the classroom and were having an impact on other students as well. The only thing that really seemed to work (and it was not always feasible) was to pull the student aside in the classroom and ask what was bothering them. While it might start with a frustrated “I don’t want to do math today!”, they would usually share what had happened in their life recently that was bothering them and often became more engaged afterwards, even though all I could do was acknowledge that what they were going through was difficult. After college, my desire to do something about those difficult experiences that affected students’ ability to learn led me to a local nonprofit. I have had the privilege of working for an organization named CARE/Child Abuse Resource and Education from our facility, The John 3:16 Center for the last 15 years. We work to prevent child abuse and neglect and to break the cycle of generational poverty in Halifax, Warren, and Northampton counties. In other words, we work to strengthen families and provide educational opportunities for children and their families. Our programs range from those that provide basic needs to parenting programs, after school and summer day camp, among others. We also find that being aware of and connecting with other agencies that provide other support services is critical for many reasons. The Connections Matter initiative ties these together; though I did not know it at the time, my experience in the fifth-grade classroom taught me that children needed other supports to be able to engage in the classroom. I learned that while schools and their staff play a critical role in providing these supports and connections, they need to be available and shared with businesses, families, and individuals in the community, too. It is exciting to see connections grow and new opportunities to better meet the needs of children and families in our communities. Learn more about the Connections Matter NC…

Investing Upstream to Honor her Family History

Posted: December 13, 2019 By: Claire Veazey, Prevent Child Abuse NC Development Director Meet Jessica Coates, one of our monthly donors!  During this month of gratitude we want to take this opportunity to spotlight some of our supporters to learn more about their passions and personal connections. Jessica Coates is a Raleigh native, mom, founder of a digital forensics firm in Wake Forest and first gave to Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) in 2015. Raised by her grandparents, Jessica found PCANC when she was searching for an opportunity to give in honor of her grandmother’s memory after she passed away. “I choose to give monthly so that Prevent Child Abuse NC has an amount they can count on in their budgeting,” Jessica said. “Spontaneous donations are wonderful, but can’t be predicted, and I like to know that Prevent Child Abuse NC can count on me every month.” Jessica’s grandmother lived in fear most of her childhood, growing up in Johnson County. She was raised by a single mother who did her best to protect her from harm in an unstable household. Jessica’s grandmother married at a young age to escape her situation and managed, with very few resources, to break the cycle of physical abuse from her past. Because of her grandmother’s efforts, Jessica had a happy, stable childhood. “She could have benefited greatly from the resources your organization provides, and would have been a donor, I believe,” Jessica said. Jessica is very invested in the Connections Matter campaign as she also believes that everybody needs help and support because it can make such a difference in the life of a parent or caregiver who might feel alone. “Community is key to building a healthy individual and healthy family,” Jessica said. “It truly does take a village.” Her special connections are a tight knit group of eight other women she met at a gym years ago that range in age from 25-45 years old. “We’ve seen each other through sickness, job changes, divorces, surgeries and illness, deaths, and recently a new baby. We travel together, babysit, pet sit, and help each other move. We even ran the 5 Factors 5K together! We make sure everyone has what they need and we organize to provide support at a moment’s notice,” Jessica explained. Like PCANC, Jessica believes that child abuse and neglect CAN be prevented, with appropriate resources and education from well-trained, caring individuals. “Prevent Child Abuse NC gives caregivers and our community tools to build strong, healthy families,” Jessica said. “Your organization teaches hope and offers solutions!” Thank you, Jessica, for your support!  We are grateful for…

Building the plan: Making positive connections for Western NC

Building the plan: Making positive connections for Western NC

Posted: November 21, 2019 By: Lance Goller M.P.A., Research Administrator at MAHEC, Asheville, Bernstein Fellow Graduate 2017-2019 In 2017 I began the Bernstein Community Health Leadership Fellowship, a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership an Innovation, while working at a Federally Qualified Health Center. Shortly after I began my fellowship, I unexpectedly changed jobs and shifted to working at an organization that focused on early childhood, tasked with using a Collective Impact model to improve the health and well-being of young children in a rural county in Western North Carolina. Initially this task seemed daunting. I had never worked in early childhood before. I was funded through a time-limited grant that had less than a year to go, so I had to develop ideas and projects rather quickly. I used a 2-prong approach to help determine priorities. First, I met with community members and staff from agencies who were already working to improve the lives of young children in the county, following the concept of “100 cups of coffee”, to learn what they thought could be done to help young children. Next, I reviewed as much data as I could find that would provide further insight on the state of young children in the county. Issues that arose out of conversations mostly centered on the lack of affordable childcare and consequent economic challenges facing families with young children. Looking at health and other data, the county was among the healthiest in the state. However, digging further into publicly available datasets, I was surprised to find that the rates of child abuse were about double the statewide average, and among the highest in any county in Western North Carolina. As I shared the child abuse data with people I met with, most were not aware that this was a problem in our community. Working on this issue became my fellowship project. Around this time, at a statewide Smart Start conference, I met staff from Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC), who presented on their Community Prevention Action Plan which aimed reduce child abuse in an Eastern NC county. I asked PCANC to consider helping my community develop our own plan to reduce child abuse, and they agreed. The process began with a Community Café, where we shared the latest child abuse data with over 60 attendees, including staff from the Departments of Health and Social Services. Most of the reported child abuse was categorized as neglect, with a quarter of all cases specifically mentioning substance use as a key factor. Many were surprised by the high rates of child abuse in our county and were spurred to action. To develop a local child abuse prevention plan, PCANC requires that interested community members get trained in the Protective Factors framework, to provide a practical foundation to develop the plan. PCANC subsequently traveled to our county and trained about 40 stakeholders interested in reducing child abuse in our community. To build the plan, we will consider how factors – such as social determinants of health, the opioid epidemic, and community support for parents – impact our community in negative or positive ways. A local steering committee was formed to meet monthly to discuss the issue moving forward. In October 2019, PCANC began working with the committee to begin building the Community Prevention Action Plan. But the success of the building and implementation of this plan depends on the investment and engagement of community members and agencies working on this issue. I have no doubt that by working together as a community, we will reduce the rates of child abuse and improve the lives of many…

Child sexual abuse is preventable; Biology is not destiny

Child sexual abuse is preventable; Biology is not destiny

By: Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC President & CEO Posted: November 18, 2019 Child sexual abuse IS preventable and biology is not destiny. Our collective failure to focus research, policy and programs on preventing child sexual abuse is damaging children’s developing brains and bodies and is costing all of us an enormous amount of money downstream in our criminal justice, health care and other systems. At PCANC we focus on primary prevention by building Protective Factors to increase the capacity of parents, agency professionals and communities to support and strengthen families to prevent abuse from ever happening. In that context, our work has largely focused on four of the five protective factors: knowledge of parenting and child development, parental resilience, social connections and concrete supports in times of need. To truly focus upstream to prevent child sexual abuse, we, collectively, must focus much more attention – in research, policy and practice – and therefore money – on building the social and emotional competence of our children. I challenge you to think strategically about the role you can play to do just that. Building the social and emotional competence of our children must be built on a foundation of good data. Our systems for reporting and tracking child abuse and neglect across Division of Social Services, Child Advocacy Centers, and law enforcement need to be improved so that we know more about the true scope of child sexual abuse in NC. Do we know the average ages of predators? Do we know the average age of child sexual abuse victims? Do we know the true prevalence of child sexual abuse in NC or are we relying on national statistics? Are we looking at data through a racial equity lens? Our policy makers will demand data, and rightly so. We need the data to target and measure interventions and prevention programs. That means we must invest in data systems. That is challenge number one. Building the social and emotional competence of our youth must begin with our youngest children. We know that if children learn early about healthy relationships and empathy for others, their brains will be wired for healthy relationships as they grow through adolescents and adulthood. This can have a win-win impact of children growing up to resist predators and to prevent the development of predators. To do this in NC, we have to raise awareness about both child sexual abuse and the research on what works to prevent it. Social norms will have to change to support investments in programs that focus on healthy relationship skills – including healthy sexual relationships. Dr. Letourneau reminded us that the evidence base is not as strong for child sexual abuse programming as it is for other prevention programs. We need NC research institutions in public health, social work and psychiatry to focus on creating interventions and programs targeted to preventing child sexual abuse – and we need the philanthropic community to support pilots and research. That is challenge number two. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not focus on our individual responsibilities to be a connection for the children in our communities. All the research on this is clear – children who have stable, safe, nurturing relationships in their lives with both their parents and within caring adults in their communities, build social and emotional skills. Not only that, but their community looks out for them and is better able to identify signs of potential grooming or abuse. That is challenge number three. We all have a role – as individuals, as researchers, as parents, as funders, as policy makers and as shapers. On October 19, a statewide learning convening was held on child sexual abuse prevention. Presenters included: Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Professor, Department of Mental Health, Director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of child Sexual Abuse at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Lisa Amaya Jackson, MD, MPH, Department of psychiatry, Duke University School of Medicine, UCLA-Duke National Center for Childhood Traumatic Stress and Center for child & Family Health and NC Child Treatment Program Sherika Hill, PhD, MHA, Research and Policy Liaison, Director’s office, UNC Chapel Hill, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute and Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke School of Medicine The event was co-convened by Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC), the Children’s Advocacy Centers of NC, The Redwoods Group, NC Coalition Against Sexual Assault, NC Child, NC Alliance of YMCAs and the YMCA of the Triangle. Your final challenge is to watch the video above from the statewide learning event and take the time to think strategically about the role you and your organization can play in building a system to prevent child sexual abuse – and engage with us at PCANC and the other organizations involved in planning the statewide learning event on child sexual abuse prevention. Presentation 1 by Dr. Elizabeth Letourneau, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Presentation 2 by Dr. Lisa Amaya-Jackson, Duke Medical Center and Center for Child and Family Health. Presentation 3 by Dr. Sherika Hill, Duke University and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Presentation 4 by Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC President & CEO Please contact Sharon Hirsch at shirsch@preventchildabusenc.org with questions.
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7 Simple Ways to Show Support During Child Abuse Prevention Month

By: Kristie Demers, Prevent Child Abuse NC Communications Coordinator Posted: March 2018 As I’m sure you already know, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. It is a time to honor the children we are raising today by creating a movement that will build safe, stable, nurturing homes and communities in North Carolina for years to come.   It is a time to celebrate the great childhoods all children deserve. It is a time to recognize where we have been, where we want to go, and what it will take to get there. It is a time to ask yourself, “What am I doing to support children and families in North Carolina?” It is a time to create your plan of action! As the Communications Coordinator for Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, I am on the road meeting people from different sectors on a regular basis. And although the people I’m meeting range from government agencies to restaurant management to community groups to grade-school children, I often get asked the same question, “How can I help prevent child abuse?” The answer is simple: You don’t have to work directly with children and families to make a difference (but of course we applaud those who do that work throughout the year!). In fact, you just sitting there being you, taking the time out of your day to read this is exactly what we need. We need passionate people who want to promote the importance of investing in prevention efforts! We need you! That’s why we challenge you to do a little more and complete as many tasks on our list below as you can! Seven simple ways to show support during Child Abuse Prevention Month: 1. Raise Awareness on Social Media Start by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn so you can stay educated, spread awareness, and learn more about prevention efforts across the state. Share and retweet our posts to educate your networks about prevention! Want to take your social advocacy to the next level? Visit our Social Media Toolkit for more tips and ways to raise awareness using social media! 2. Plant a Pinwheel Home Kit Plant a pinwheel garden in your own front yard! The Pinwheel Home Kit is affordable at $33 ($23 for Prevention Network Members) and includes 24 pinwheels and a yard sign. The pinwheels are versatile and can be used in many different spaces, for example, I’ll be planting my pinwheels in flower pots on my patio at my apartment! Order your Pinwheel Materials. And of course, share a photo of your pinwheel garden using the hashtags #PassThePinwheel and #GreatChildhoods. 3. Wear Blue Wear blue on Friday, April 7 for Wear Blue Day, take a selfie, and share on your social media channels with the hashtags #PassthePinwheel & #GreatChildhoods. One of our Implementation Support Specialists said she just might dust off an as-tacky-as-it-sounds old blue prom dress for a special social media photo-opp! But don’t worry; you can wear a blue button-up shirt, blouse, t-shirt, dress, blue jeans, tie or other accessories if you don’t have any blue vintage prom attire lying around. 4. Attend Local Child Abuse Prevention Month Events You can help prevent child abuse by attending a press conference to show solidarity, volunteering to plant pinwheels with local organizations, running a 5k, eating ramen noodles (yes, you read that right), or taking your kids to the park! Round up your family, friends, or coworkers and join us at any of the following events: Click the link in each for more details. *UPDATE as of May 1, 2018: These events are now over March 31, 10:00AM-11:00AM – Meck4Kids Press Conference to Kick-Off Child Abuse Prevention Month. Join us outside the Mecklenburg County Courthouse in Charlotte, NC. April 4, 1:30PM -3:00PM – Pinwheels in Parks kick-off in Nash Square Downtown Raleigh – presented in partnership by Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. Register to volunteer at one of four other park locations at 2:30pm. April 4, 11:30AM-9:30PM – Torii Noodle Bar’s 2nd Annual $1 Ramen Noodle Day. We knew you would be hungry after all the pinwheels you plant this April! So head to Torii Noodle Bar by Kanki in Raleigh, NC for $1 bowls of ramen (regular $12.95). Dine-in only. One per customer. All proceeds support PCANC. April 8, 8:00AM-12:00PM – Run the River 5k – benefiting CARE at The John 3:16 Center. 5k held at the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail in Roanoke Rapids, NC. April 9, 2:00PM-3:00PM – American Tobacco Campus pinwheel garden sponsored by Capitol Broadcasting Company (CBC). Join us in planting 2,000 pinwheels in Durham, NC. April 15, 10:00AM-12:00PM – Family Fun Day at Pullen Park hosted by Wake County Human Services in partnership with Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. April 20, 12:00PM-1:00PM – WRAL pinwheel garden sponsored by CBC. Join us in planting 2,000 pinwheels at the WRAL / Fox50 campus in Raleigh, NC. April 30, 12:00PM-6:00PM – Pinwheels for Prevention Family Fun Day hosted by the Exchange Family Center at Wheels Fun Park in Durham, NC. 5. Double Your Donation! Thanks to the ChildTrust Foundation, all donations will be matched up to $75,000 through June 30, 2017. With your donation, you can help us build safe, stable, nurturing homes and communities where children can thrive! 6. Start a Fundraising Campaign Start a campaign! It’s quick and easy to create your own fundraising page. By becoming a fundraiser you can create your own account, join or start a team, and get others involved! Pledge your birthday, challenge your friends or coworkers to compete with you, or encourage donations to celebrate a parent or guardian that had an impact on you. 7. Purchase a Kids First License Plate Raise awareness on the roads with a Kids First specialty license plate. When you purchase a Kids First specialty license plate, $15 of the plate fee is returned to local communities in the form of grants to organizations implementing child abuse and neglect prevention programs. Invite us to speak to your group (civic, faith group, school, government agency, nonprofit) about strategies that strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect. Contact me at kdemers@preventchildabusenc.org or 919-829-8009 ext. 619. THANK YOU for your support and spreading awareness about the importance of investing in the great childhoods all children deserve during Child Abuse Prevention…

A letter from our immediate past board chair

A letter from our immediate past board chair

By: Jes Averhart, Prevent Child Abuse NC Immediate Past Board Chair Date Posted: September 27, 2019 In many ways fate conspires with action to lead you into work that is both unexpected and meaningful. I found myself at this intersection in 2013 when I was invited to serve on the board of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC). As the daughter of a loving and nurturing single mom and the mother of a teenage son (who is adored), the notion of strong, informed parenting struck me as a ‘no brainer’; and before my work with PCANC, I would have considered myself a champion of parenting and fiercely protective of kids. If I’m to be honest however, I was woefully uninformed and critical of parents who ‘didn’t have it together.’ The truth was, I hadn’t considered the gaps and the inherent obstacles and barriers that exist, preventing many families from flourishing into safe and healthy units. Oh, how times have changed! In my first year of this work, I decided to own my blind spots, listen, learn and ask questions. I learned from our diverse board and expert staff that this work is not just a notion…but the place where real change occurs. PCANC puts proven supports in place for real North Carolina families to grow, make better choices and become more connected – where children are more likely to grow up healthier and ready to reach their fullest potential. YES!! Now that’s good work! That is my story and my evolution. What is yours? For such a time as this…we hear this phrasing a lot. The context, which is a Biblical reference to the Book of Esther, is actually a challenge or rebuke, not an inspiring pep talk. Queen Esther was being reminded that she was set apart to do God’s work, not to get caught up in her title and position as queen. The same can be said for each of us today, as members of a broader community. It’s not enough to say you’re a concerned citizen and pontificate over dinner about the ‘long way we have to go’ to turn things around. I believe we have been set apart for a greater purpose: to meaningfully engage with our children and their families, to keep a watchful eye on our community and speak up around issues of abuse and neglect. To help amplify this calling, PCANC is rolling out a statewide social norm campaign called “Connections Matter,” a game changer for North Carolina. This campaign will demystify and remove the stigma around parental supports and community involvement, because we KNOW that connections DO matter. As part of this campaign, you will learn to increase the Five Protective Factors in your family and community – and become equipped, in partnership with PCANC, to help move North Carolina forward. Take just a second to consider how we are all connected through varying touch points, be it schools, parks and recreation, the YMCA, pediatricians, fire and law enforcement, places of worship, and even your local grocery store. No longer can we be ‘eyes wide shut’ on the topic of our children. They need us to see them and their families need our support and encouragement in such a time as this. I encourage you to review our latest annual report and really consider the work that is taking place at Prevent Child Abuse NC. I think you’ll find it inspired, thoughtful and relevant. As you walk alongside this work, keep an eye out for policy implications, engage with us during Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAPM) in April by planting a Pinwheel Garden and consider a gift to further the mission. It all matters at the end of the day and we’ll all be able to celebrate the wins together! On behalf of our children and families across the state, let’s do this…TOGETHER! In deep gratitude, Jes Averhart Immediate Past Chair, Board of Directors Prevent Child…

A message from Prevent Child Abuse NC on child separations at the US border

A message from Prevent Child Abuse NC on child separations at the US border

By: Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC President & CEO Posted: September 13, 2019 This message was sent to the NC congressional delegation, urging them to take action to prevent children from being separated from their parents at the border and to keep the well being of children paramount when parents are detained for immigration violations at the border and in their communities. Neuroscience makes it clear that childhood experiences lay the foundation for the quality of brain development, health and prosperity into adulthood.  Children who grow up in safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments have the best opportunity to become educated, productive, healthy and engaged citizens into adulthood. The most important relationships children have are with their parents.  When parent-child attachment is disrupted, it is extremely traumatic, having a negative impact on brain development.  The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, conducted more than 20 years ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente, made it clear that separation from parents – by divorce, parental incarceration, death, foster care or any other reason – is one of the most traumatic experiences a child can endure. It’s not only challenging emotionally, it creates Toxic Stress which changes the way the child’s brain develops and negatively impacts the immune system. Children who experience trauma hyper-develop their fight, freeze or flight instincts and under-develop the executive functioning portion of their brains necessary for learning, decision-making and relationship building. We can see this clearly in brain scans of children who have experienced this type of trauma compared to those who have not. The legacy of inadequate childhood attachment poses a considerable burden for the individuals themselves, for society, and for public services. It is a key factor in intergenerational parenting difficulties, and predisposes children to substance abuse, temper problems, homelessness, promiscuity, early pregnancy, and criminality.  People who have experienced such extreme trauma are more likely to have behavior problems in school, become depressed, attempt suicide, develop diseases like heart disease and lung cancer, and are more likely to have difficulty in relationships. In addition, the downstream consequences of toxic stress costs ALL of us an enormous amount of money – in NC alone, we spend $2 billion every year in health, social services, criminal justice, remedial education and lost worker productivity as a result of child abuse and neglect.  This is preventable when we invest in making sure all children grow up in safe, stable, nurturing environments.  It’s good policy, it’s good medicine, and it is good for our wallets. We know more than ever before about what helps children and adults overcome tough times. It’s all about the healing power of relationships. Science has revealed that relationships help build healthy brains, families and communities. We must assure that children who come into custody of our government are cared for with an understanding of this science. This is why we are urging you to do everything in your power to take action to prevent children from being separated from their parents at the border and to keep the well being of children paramount when parents are detained for immigration violations at the border and in their communities. If children have to be separated from families, the policy priority must be placed on the well-being of children and assuring the conditions in which they are detained are safe, nurturing and staffed by personnel who use trauma-informed practice to care for the children in their custody. We are not expert in immigration policy, but we are leading NC in protecting all children from emotional, physical and sexual abuse within our communities and families. We urge you to take action to ensure children’s well being is the top priority when their parents are detained, that trauma-informed practice be required in facilities that house children separated from their parents and that every effort is made to prevent children from being separated from their families. We are ready to provide guidance and support as you work to achieve this…