It is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and one of our goals is to see that every Oregon child has the chance to grow up in a safe and loving family, with support for success in school. Today, I want to share a message from DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day about the important work going on to help Oregon achieve this outcome for children and their families. Have a great week!
National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Meaningful Connections with Children and Families
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, DHS Child Welfare encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Oregon a better place for children and families. Everyone’s participation is critical in keeping children safe. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors in every interaction with our children and families is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development. Protective factors include concrete supports for parents, nurturing, attachment and knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development. By ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child abuse within families and communities.
As a state, Oregon is focused on making our system responsive to children’s safety, wellbeing and permanency needs. We are in the process of implementing a Differential Response model that is transforming Child Welfare’s engagement with families and in many cases keeping children safely at home with the right support and supervision.
In 2007, the legislature passed Karly’s law, in memory of three year-old Karly Sheehan, which requires a specialized child abuse medical assessment within 48 hours when suspicious injuries are identified on a child. It establishes a process of coordinated efforts between law enforcement, child welfare and the medical community to keep children safe. Since the passage of Karly’s law the number of children identified with suspicious injuries has increased, and we are better at recognizing signs of potential abuse. The law is a great tool we use in protecting Oregon’s children.
In 2013, the Oregon legislature, with support of the Governor, invested $23.7 million in total funds for statewide implementation of Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families program. This program provides contract dollars for a broad array of services statewide that can help parents address the issues that are preventing them from keeping their children safe at home and out of foster care.
There are other efforts we are making as a system: Permanency Roundtables, increased services for homeless and runaway youth, expansion of Wraparound services for children, increased wellness initiatives for children in foster care, child specific focused recruitment for foster and adoptive resources, and more. The child welfare system is focused on those factors that support families and children, preventing abuse from occurring: increased access to health care, Pay for Prevention, increasing community engagement around the needs of children and families under stress, all day kindergarten, and more.
When we make meaningful connections with the children, youth and families in our communities, we can help parents build the knowledge and skills and access the resources necessary to raise safe children whose full potential can be realized. Everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being.