Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC) is dedicated to investing in public policies that strengthen families and nurture positive childhoods in across North Carolina. We work closely with other state-level partners to support policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

Policymaker Perspectives on Child Maltreatment Prevention in NC: A Qualitative Study

PCANC’s Policy and Evaluation Teams conducted an Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved qualitative study with 26 North Carolina policymakers and elected officials to learn about their perspectives on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), Social Determinants of Health (SDOHs) and policies that can prevent child maltreatment. 

In May 2022, PCANC’s Policy Team presented the study findings in the Prevention Action Network webinar “Policymaker Perspectives on Child Maltreatment Prevention in NC: Results from a Qualitative Analysis.” 104 people attended the webinar and it received a satisfaction rate of 4.7 out of 5. Watch a recording of the webinar on the left. 

Read the full report, Forward with Hope, from our research study, Policymaker Perspectives on Child Maltreatment Prevention in NC. This comprehensive report covers relevant background on Adverse Childhood and Community Experiences, Social Determinants of Health, prevention, home visiting, parenting education, paid leave, and why we chose to focus on these topics. We then discuss the study’s methods and take a deep dive into the findings and implications.

Read the Full Report

For a preview of the report’s contents, check out our Executive Summary. You can also explore the Taking Action! guide for our recommended action steps based on our findings. 


The subject matter covered allowed me insight into how policymakers think and work to accomplish some necessary objectives in the prevention and treatment of child abuse. 

– Policymaker Perspectives Webinar Attendee

I think one of my favorite part was finding out that 23+ counties in NC have local paid leave policies now.

– Policymaker Perspectives Webinar Attendee

Great to get a bit of a check-in on these perceptions rather than getting stuck in our assumptions. Good to know how much growth there is in support for Family-Friendly Workplace Policies.

– Policymaker Perspectives Webinar Attendee

Our Top Policy Priorities

Every child is filled with tremendous promise – and we have a shared obligation to foster their potential. When we work together to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments and equal opportunities for every child in North Carolina, we can remove the heaviest loads from weighing families and entire communities down – ultimately building a stronger future for us all. That’s why PCANC’s policy priorities are rooted in the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework:

Our Top Three Policy Priorities:

  1. Family-Friendly Workplace Policies
  2. Economic Supports
  3. Investments in Home Visiting and Parenting Education

Prevention happens in partnership. We extend gratitude to our statewide partners for their partnership in moving this work forward, together: MomsRising, NC Child, Think Babies NC AllianceNorth Carolina Partnership for Children, the Home Visiting and Parenting Education (HVPE) System Collaborative, NC Early Education Coalition, and NC Early Childhood Foundation, among others.

Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework

PCANC works closely with our statewide partners to support policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Family-friendly workplace policies include Safe Days & Kin Care, Pregnancy Accommodations and Paid Family and Medical Leave. Policies that increase family economic security include the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), child care subsidies, and living wages. Read more in our 2021 paper: Economic Supports Can Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect in North Carolina.

HVPE programs, like the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program, help build protective factors that reduce the risk of abuse and neglect, strengthen family relationships and promote children’s healthy development. MIECHV is up for reauthorization by Congress on September 30, 2022. In North Carolina, the home visiting programs of Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) and Healthy Families America (HFA) receive MIECHV funding to support their work.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) is also due to be reauthorized by Congress. CAPTA is foundational to the prevention, intervention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) programs were established by Title II of the CAPTA Amendments of 1996. CBCAP provides funding for primary prevention to all 50 states, which includes our agency’s work; however, it has been chronically under-funded. To learn more about MIECHV or CAPTA and ongoing efforts to reauthorize and strengthen these important pieces of legislation, please reach out to PCANC Policy Director Melea Rose-Waters.   

2021 Virtual Statewide Policy Institutes

PCANC co-hosted four free, virtual Policy Institutes in September and October 2021 with the NC Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families. Each of the institutes focused on a different level of advocacy, starting with collaboration and coalition building, followed by local advocacy, state advocacy, and closing out the series with federal advocacy. During these sessions, participants heard a welcome message, an opening keynote, advocacy 201 presentation, a youth or parent voice keynote and a panel discussion. The institutes also featured live Spanish interpretation.

A total of 27 speakers and over 400 attendees participated in the virtual institutes, sharing and learning together over the course of 10 hours of programming on how to best advocate for North Carolina’s children, youth and families. The satisfaction rate for the 2021 institutes was 4.8 out of 5.

From a survey immediately following the institutes, we learned:

  • 100% of attendees across all four institutes were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the youth and parent voice keynotes.
  • 99% were satisfied with the opening keynotes and panel discussions.
  • 97% reported that the institutes increased their confidence to select effective communication strategies to advocate for policies.
  • 98% reported they were introduced with at least one opportunity to get involved in current advocacy work during the institute.
  • 96% reported that the institutes increased their confidence to apply effective communication strategies to advocate for policies.
  • 95% planned to take action to advocate on policy affecting children, youth, and families in the next 6 months.

In a 6-month follow-up survey we learned that 97% of respondents had taken action:

  • 38% attended an event hosted by an elected official or emailed an elected official.
  • 47% attended a local government meeting and used storytelling to advocate for children, youth and families.
Watch Youth Advocate Elijah Lee’s Presentation
Watch Recordings of the 2021 Virtual Statewide Policy Institutes:

I have presented on this topic at national and international conferences and have a book for publication accepted.

– Policy Institute Attendee

I have used the training and information I gained with the advocate council I am a member of.

– Policy Institute Attendee

I encourage families to advocate and tell their stories.

– Policy Institute Attendee

Our Work in FY 2021-2022

Click a category to read more.


As adults, it is our responsibility to ensure the healthy growth and development of all children. That includes intervening when we suspect a child’s well-being is or may be at risk.

Your Role in Protecting Children from Maltreatment

North Carolina law requires all adults to report suspected child maltreatment. You do not need proof that maltreatment has occurred; you only need reasonable cause to suspect maltreatment. You do not need anyone’s permission to file a report.

For a comprehensive explanation of the North Carolina law requiring all citizens to report cases of suspected child abuse, neglect, and dependency, click here.

If you need more information about what to do if you suspect abuse and neglect, take PCANC’s free web-based Recognizing and Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment training. After completing this course, follow the instructions to print your Results to provide to employers or volunteer managers indicating that you have successfully completed the course.

Download our Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment one-pager as a reference tool.

Remember, it is your job as an adult to help protect children.

How to Make a Referral

To make a referral, call your local county Department of Social Services (DSS) where the child lives. Find contact information for your local DSS in the North Carolina DSS County Directory. Share any information you have about the child – name, age, address and parent or caregiver name – and what makes you suspect abuse.

You do not need to provide your contact information when making the report; but if you do, you will receive a notification as to whether Child Protective Services (CPS) will or will not investigate the case.

What Happens After You Make a Referral

If your referral is accepted for assessment, the county DSS will initiate an assessment within 24 hours for abuse or 72 hours for neglect. The assessment will include a visit to the home and interviews with the child, his or her family and others. DSS will work to protect the child while helping the family address issues that may be contributing to the abusive or neglectful behavior. Families most frequently work with DSS to receive services in the form of counseling, emergency foster care, help with basic needs, parenting classes, and intensive in-home services.

If You Are Not Satisfied With the Result After You Make a Referral

If the CPS worker assigned to the case determines there will not be an investigation, you may contact the CPS Supervisor at that location.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome after contacting the CPS Supervisor, you may contact the DSS Director at that site and state your concern.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome at the local DSS level, call the Child Welfare Policy Consultation Team within the North Carolina Division of Social Services at 919-527-6340, and Administrative Support staff will direct your call to the next available consultant.

If you need legal services, we recommend one of the following resources:

  • Lawyer Referral Services at 1-800-662-7660 is a free service of the North Carolina Bar Association and can help you locate an appropriate attorney for your particular needs.
  • Legal Aid of North Carolina at 919-856-2564 can help you access a low-cost attorney for custody issues.

Spread the Word

Help us spread the word on social media about Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment. Use our Social Media Toolkit with share images and pre-written social media posts to spread the word and challenge others to take the course!

Recognizing & Responding to Suspicions of Child Maltreatment Social Media Toolkit 
Download Social Media Images