When we invest upstream in public policies that build strong families and safe communities, we are securing the safe, stable, and nurturing environments all children deserve. Success in school and increased graduation rates lead to healthier, more productive future employees and ultimately reduce costs in our social services, criminal justice, educational, and health care systems.

Extreme and repetitive childhood adversity, such as child maltreatment, can alter brain development and have lifelong harmful impacts on both physical and emotional well-being. Many Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse and neglect, can be prevented.

The Strengthening Families Protective Factors are research-based conditions or attributes that promote positive outcomes for children and families including reductions in child maltreatment. Prevent Child Abuse NC’s (PCANC) policy priorities are rooted in protective factors. These five factors are:


Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development Social and Emotional Competence of Children
Resilience Social Connections
Concrete Support in Times of Need  


  • Evidence-based home visiting and parenting education
  • Family-friendly workplace policies
  • Family economic supports
  • Quality, affordable child care
  • Prevention of child sexual abuse
  • Implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act

Policies that support families are essential for a society where all children and families thrive.

Make evidence-based home visiting and parenting education programs available to parents and caregivers on a continuum from prenatal to college.

Parenting education can be delivered in a home setting (home visiting) or group setting (parenting education groups). Home visiting programs help parents gain basic parenting skills by matching new families with trained providers, such as nurses, social workers, or parent educators. Similarly, group-based parenting education increases the skills and knowledge of parenting and child development but in a setting outside of the home. Evidence- based parenting education, whether delivered in the home or in a group setting, has been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Implement family-friendly policies and programs in the workplace that support and strengthen families.

Family-friendly workplace policies improve the balance between work and family while ensuring family economic security. Policies that promote family economic security such as paid family and medical leave are associated with significantly higher rates of breastfeeding and maternal health, reductions in hospitalizations for abusive head trauma, and lower rates of family stressors and risk factors for child abuse and neglect.

Increase family economic security.

Empowering families to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, and medical care by strengthening household financial security is proven to reduce the risk factors for child abuse and neglect. Policies that increase the economic self-sufficiency of families alleviate some parental stress and help establish a stable household—two factors that can help protect children from abuse and neglect.

Improve access to quality, affordable childcare.

Better quality childcare increases the likelihood that children will experience safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments and decreases the risk of maltreatment-related fatalities. Access to affordable childcare reduces parental stress and access to high-quality child care is associated with fewer symptoms of maternal depression. Both parental stress and maternal depression are risk factors for child abuse and neglect.

Preventing child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse (CSA) can cause serious damage to the cognitive, social, and emotional development of a child. North Carolina must expand the focus of preventing CSA to include the prevention of institutional CSA through funded initiatives rather than unfunded mandates. With funding, we can implement initiatives that provide evidence-informed CSA prevention education. This includes prevention in schools and youth-serving organizations and assistance to these entities to implement and institutionalize safe child policies and practices that include training employees and volunteers, and enabling parents to learn about child sexual abuse and its prevention; developing codes of conduct; screening prospective employees and volunteers; and reporting and responding appropriately to boundary violations and suspected or disclosed cases of child sexual abuse.

Support implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act.

Family First includes historic reforms to help keep children safe with their families and avoid entry into foster care. This is a historic, once-in-a-generation law that, for the first time, provides flexibility for child welfare programming by allowing states, territories, and tribes the option of using federal Title IV-E funds before children enter the foster care system by utilizing important services such as mental health, substance use, counseling, and other in-home parent skill-based programs. In addition, states have the option to use this federal funding for evidence-based home visiting programs such as Healthy Families America (HFA). Read more about the implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act in North Carolina.

Prevent Child Abuse NC works closely with our statewide partners to support policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Our policy priorities align with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Technical Packages to Prevent Violence, including the Essentials for Childhood framework. We also prioritize strategies and goals in the NC Early Childhood Action Plan as well as the Think BabiesTM NC initiative.

For more information on our policy priorities contact Melea Rose-Waters, Policy Director, at mrosewaters@preventchildabusenc.org.


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