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COVID-19 Update: Keeping our children, families & communities safe

COVID-19 Update: Keeping our children, families & communities safe

Posted: March 17, 2020 By: Sharon Hirsch, Prevent Child Abuse NC President & CEO Friends, We recognize how stressful these uncertain times can be and thank you for your focus on the work. Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) is weighing the possible impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on our partners, the children and families they serve, and our team. We have also been closely following the international and national information about the virus and regularly monitoring the NC Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites for the most up-to-date information. In the coming weeks we will strive to balance moving the work forward, while also making the best safety decisions for our team, partners and families. At this point in time, we have asked all staff to practice the social distancing necessary to protect our most vulnerable populations, including working from home. Our staff can still be reached as usual, though we do plan to reschedule all in-person trainings and site visits. Whenever feasible, we will utilize Zoom video conferencing for meetings and training events. For Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAPM), we encourage partners and individuals to follow CDC recommendations and shift plans for recognizing CAPM, including postponing gatherings like press conferences, pinwheel plantings, family events, etc., for a later date. Stay tuned to PCANC’s social media channels for updates on CAPM and how you can still have an impact. Our Connections Matter Campaign, which launched last fall, emphasizes the importance of positive connections within our community as a key strategy for building strong families and thriving children. Though social distancing may separate us physically, there are many ways we can continue to stay connected – and it is more important than ever to support children and families during this stressful and uncertain time. Here are a few ways you can help: Contact Senator Burr (202) 224-3154 and Senator Tillis (202) 224-6342 to ask if they’ll pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Some key elements of the emergency bill include: free COVID-19 testing for everyone who needs a test; 10 days of immediately available paid sick leave for COVID-19 related illness, caregiving or quarantine; 12 weeks of emergency paid leave for COVID-19 related illness, caregiving or quarantine; increased funding for SNAP, WIC and emergency food assistance programs, as well as flexibility for states to ensure access to food and more. The House passed the bill last week and the Senate was expected to vote on it as early as Monday, March 16. Check out this blog from our friends at the NC Families Care Coalitionto learn more. Watch Prevent Child Abuse America President & CEO Dr. Melissa Merrick issue a special statement on COVID-19 impact on nation’s children and families and check out their page of resources for parents, children, the community, schools and businesses. Contact your local food bank, diaper bank, and other community supports to ask how you can help given that more families may experience food insecurity and financial uncertainty in the coming days, weeks and months. We appreciate that a great deal of work and preparation has been put into the planning of meetings and events and understand that postponing and rescheduling events/meetings will create additional work for us all. Thanks for your grace and patience as we reflect upon the best approaches for our organization and community. Please reach out to us if you should have further questions. Remember:  wash your hands for 20 seconds, wipe down surfaces, practice social distancing – and be a connection by checking in on each other in a safe, healthy…

COVID-19 and lack of paid sick leave: Child safety a concern

COVID-19 and lack of paid sick leave: Child safety a concern

With the rising concerns about COVID-19, we worry about the impact on children. Public health recommendations will likely require anyone with symptoms to stay home and avoid public areas, for up to 2-3 weeks. Without paid sick leave, the financial hardship for many workers could lead to consequences on children’s safety.

Turning the Tide with Catholic Charities of the Tar River

Posted: March 5, 2020 Guest Blog By: Liz McDowell, BSW, Catholic Charities’ Program Director We are quickly approaching our Turning the Tide event in April where Board members, Zeke Bridges and Thomas Moore, head to the Tar River increasing prevention awareness on the eastern side of the state.  During this time leading up to the big day, we want to celebrate agencies and people who are making a positive impact on families and children in the area.  Meet Catholic Charites of the Tar River!  Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina (PCANC) provides support to this agency which offers local families services such as disaster counseling, preparation & food recovery, food pantries, immigration support and parent education in seven counties. Liz McDowell, BSW, Catholic Charities’ Program Director, shares a little more about the area, the population they serve, the obstacles they face, and accomplishments made in the area of prevention. Pitt County is a great place to live because it has many features of the big city but still is small and connected. Greenville is a diverse city, home to East Carolina University and a major medical center, but also has a 24% poverty rate. The populations Catholic Charities of the Tar River Region serve vary. About half of our population is considered elderly; a third are Hispanic, the rest are African American and white; all live in poverty. Disaster Recovery and Case Management has been an integral part of our services since Hurricane Matthew in 2016. The Tar River office is also part of the Healthy Food Pantry Program and has served over 600 unduplicated families this year, helping to reduce food insecurity in Pitt County. Catholic Charities also has an Intro to Budgeting class where we bring community members together to hone their financial skills and develop a system of accountability in order to maintain savings. Just this year alone, our participants have saved over $10,000 while in our budgeting classes. In 2000, a Hispanic Woman’s group began and is still bringing the Hispanic women of our community together 20 years later. There they can connect with resources, services, and education to reduce the isolating feeling of being new to an area. Our recent partnership with PCANC has allowed us to launch a Hispanic Parenting Group, where parents can come together and support one another through the challenges of parenting. Working with PCANC is a dynamic process, as they support us in training and programming that serve parents and families our community. Prevention Programs Specialist, Stacey Cunningham, is always available to guide us and give direction when needed. Like many non-profits, funding is always a challenge. Currently, a major hurdle for us is our quest for bigger office space. Despite these challenges, we know our work in prevention is necessary to build a thriving community. We are passionate about our jobs here at Catholic Charities, and the fact that we have the opportunity to serve our community is a privilege and honor. Thank you, Catholic Charities for all that you are doing to make prevention a priority in…

Connecting for Prevention: We are more than our ACE score

Posted: February 23, 2020 Guest Blog By: Emily Ragland, North Carolina State University Graduate Assistant, M.S. Candidate Youth, Family and Community Science Program, Family Life Educator The first time I heard about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) was in a committee meeting about childhood and community resilience. I had worked with youth and families for over a decade as a family educator, behavior specialist and autism professional but the wording and acronym, ACEs, were new to me. Once I learned what specific experiences were included in the conversation around ACEs, I immediately thought about the number of ACEs I experienced in my childhood. I would later find out that I was not the only person in the room whose mind went there. I wonder if our minds went to our ACE number because we are humans or because we are empathetic professionals who often try to put ourselves in the shoes of those we serve. What I did know was the number many of us ended up with felt daunting and almost overwhelming. Here we are, professionals who are educated and experienced in family support, feeling stuck by this single number. It was at that point that I committed to learning more about how we can help our communities so they know they are more than their ACE number. As I sat in this meeting, I felt like we had to come up with something better than just telling people they are looking at a life of struggle and challenges. I found out that Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC) was well ahead of me and not only did they have that same thought, but they were doing something about it. They committed to focusing not on the trauma itself, but on ways to prevent trauma from ever occurring, as well as ways to successfully strengthen youth and families following trauma. With that same goal in mind, I attended the Connections Matter and Protective Factors training at PCANC. The PCANC team spent the day not only teaching us, but connecting with us. That feeling of being a part of a caring group of people will stick with me forever. This was the feeling that PCANC and its partners were tasked to build for and within our own communities…connection. The resources that were shared were powerful, but the feelings we experienced were what stuck with me most. I am, and always have been a firm believer that we can be the change we want to see – and because of my time in this training I know that I have the tools to do so. As a family educator, I take pride in offering resources to families as they learn how to best support their child as well as their unit as a whole. Adding the information as it relates to protective factors and resilience to my toolkit set me up to be a part of the solution. It will continue to be important that I meet families in their moments of struggle but now I can do so with tools that can offer them a brighter future. After all, we are only more than our ACE number if we have people in our corner helping us get past our traumas and that’s what I plan…

Donor Spotlight: Dennette donates to build strong families

Donor Spotlight: Dennette donates to build strong families

Posted: February 10, 2020 By: Dennette Bailey, a Prevent Child Abuse NC donor We believe that prevention is only possible because of the people that give their time, energy and resources to make it happen. Our supporters make our work possible and we are so grateful. Meet Dennette – a mom, preschool owner and teacher, blogger and a Prevent Child Abuse NC donor. Continuing with our spotlight on some of our supporters to learn more about their passions and personal connections, Dennette was kind enough to share why she supports prevention and the work that Prevent Child Abuse NC does for families. Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC) strives to make sure that prevention is a priority in our state. One of the ways they do this is by raising awareness about preventing abuse and neglect and the negative impact child maltreatment has on child development. Their mission is very close to my heart as I was a victim of child abuse. One of the things I promised myself as a child is that I would do my best to help abused children, as well as, help caring adults recognize the signs children, who are either being abused or are in danger of being abused, might be displaying. As an educator I am also very aware that prevention of child abuse can often simply consist of recognizing those families that need resources not readily available to them. Sometimes having access to food, medical care, affordable childcare and safe housing can be the difference between a child who is safe and a child who is abused. One of my own tactics as a teacher was to encourage all families to participate in the backpack food program because the one child that might need it will be the very one who will not receive it if the adult caregiver feels they are being targeted as an “at risk family”. Addressing prevention issues from the perspective of the children’s needs in interacting with a sensitive caretaker situation is also very important. Though PCANC does not work directly with children and families, they partner with the agencies that do this important work to make sure they have the resources they need to help families they serve. In my experience, educating children and building their self-esteem in regards to self-care and self- safety are also vital components of the prevention of child abuse. For me personally, it would have made a tremendous impact on my life had I been exposed to self-safety education as a youngster. In my search for an organization that spoke to my personal mission I found that PCANC is the only statewide organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Through investment in innovative programs proven to prevent child maltreatment before it occurs, PCANC helps North Carolina’s communities decrease factors that put children at risk for abuse and increase factors that encourage children to thrive. They serve every community in North Carolina as the North Carolina chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America. During my research of the organization, I discovered that Prevent Child Abuse NC has free online trainings to help us prevent child abuse and neglect. One such training offered is the Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment course. This was an important discovery for me because those employed in my field are required to take this course and so it was refreshing to see that it is offered to people outside of the education field as well. Besides my donation, I desire to be an integral part of an organization that aligns with my personal mission and so this past April when the Prevent Child Abuse NC organization was raising awareness through special advocacy involvement opportunities, I planted a pinwheel garden at my preschool, as was suggested by PCANC to help raise awareness for the strategies that are proven to strengthen families and prevent child abuse. My preschool children, their parents and myself really felt the joyful and carefree childhood sentiment that the pinwheel represents. All children should have the opportunity to thrive and live in safety. The success of our families and communities depends on our children. There are so many issues in the world that are out of our control but child abuse is not one of them. I contribute to PCANC because I believe they can help by ensuring prevention is a priority in our state and that all communities have access to the resources, knowledge, support to prevent child abuse at the local…

A Product of Positive Connections

A Product of Positive Connections

Posted:January 27, 2020 By: Nadia Moreta, Prevent Child Abuse NC Partnership Engagement Manager Known as “The Down 2 Earth Counselor,” Jewrine Voncile Harold-Brown is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor who serves many roles for her Cumberland County community. She provides free parenting classes, mentorships, trainings, and participates in committee work. She is a proud parent of two boys, Andrew (12) and Derrick (18) and is an exceptional example of how to #BeAConnection. Trained as a Connections Matter trainer back in July 2019, Brown has conducted several Connections Matter trainings using the local library and her social networks, and is currently providing Connections Matter workshops specifically targeting rural areas, mental health agencies, and services that provide resources to the Cumberland County community. She credits the training for helping her develop a stronger level of humility and increasing her desire to inspire others. “I enjoy serving my community as a motivational speaker, workshop presenter, blogger, and as a Family Advocacy Your Responsibly Brand Ambassador,” Brown said. She faced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) early in her life, witnessing the murder of her father at the age of seven, ran away from home at the age of 16, and became a teen parent and divorcee by 21. “I now understand that I grew up as an unidentified at-risk youth,” Brown said. “I grew up very quickly, [and] as a result, [had to] balance raising myself, attending high school, college, and running a household without proper support.” School teachers, social workers, and her church support system were the positive social connections that helped Brown build resiliency skills after those challenging setbacks. She also utilized governmental assistance, including community programs, to establish a stable foundation for herself and her family. Going to counseling helped Brown heal from her past experiences and at 22 years old she decided to pursue a career in that field. Brown completed her educational goal of obtaining professional licensure and even purchased her first family home at the young age of 28. Brown demonstrates that despite life’s stumbling blocks, we can prosper when we have a nurturing community and positive support system around us. “I attribute success to God, my support system, loved ones, a strong community, and [a] loving church family,” Brown said. In regard to her work with the Connections Matter curriculum, she believes it helps people understand the value of facing transitions with positive social connections which impact the brain in positive ways. Jewrine Voncile Harold-Brown is what we’d like to call a product of positive connections. If you live in the Cumberland County area and would like to schedule a workshop with Jewrine, please mail: idocareevents@gmail.com or visit her website www.thedown2earthcounselor.com To learn more about the Connections Matter NC initiative, please visit www.ConnectionsMatterNC.org. If you’re interested in being trained in the Connections Matter curriculum or want your entire organization to be trained, please contact Prevent Child Abuse NC’s Partnership Engagement Manager, Nadia Moreta, at nmoreta@preventchildabusenc.org or call 919-829-8009 (Ext. 615)….

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…