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By Jerry Milner, Associate Commissioner, Children's Bureau and Caren Harp, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Nearly five children die daily from abuse and neglect. In 2017, an estimated 1,720 children died from abuse, and 72% of them were younger than three years old.
In order to promote safety for children, focus on abuse prevention, and raise awareness, President Donald Trump has proclaimed April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The president is calling on "all Americans to invest in the lives of our nation's children, to be aware of their safety and well-being, and to support efforts that promote their psychological, physical, and emotional development."
Our agencies answer the President's call daily and will now partner to strengthen our resolution to end child abuse and neglect.
Beginning this year, the Children's Bureau within the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families and the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention are partnering to support children throughout the year. Together, federal and community organizations focus on community-based solutions to keep children safe and to help families thrive.
We know that exposure to violence or neglect during childhood can have serious, long-lasting consequences, including failure to succeed in school, substance abuse and juvenile delinquency. According to a report published by the Department of Health and Human Services, in FY 2017, 3.5 million children were the subject of a child protective services investigation or an alternative response. Child abuse and neglect are destructive—and far too common—realities in our communities.
The Children's Bureau and OJJDP believe strongly in the ability of partnerships and community-based solutions to decrease incidence—and lessen the impacts—of child abuse and neglect. That is why both agencies continue to foster and support community partnerships throughout the country and are working together to highlight federal resources available for families and professionals.
OJJDP is joining the Children's Bureau in promoting the WE CAN -- Work to End Child Abuse and Neglect -- campaign. WE CAN is a visually-compelling social media campaign that suggests concrete actions communities can take to end child abuse and neglect. Please join us in making a difference by downloading and sharing these activities and daily updates throughout the campaign.
Here are some examples of what we do all year long to support children's safety and well-being.
Children's Bureau Efforts
The Children's Bureau aims to reorient the child welfare system to focus on strengthening families through prevention networks. The Children's Bureau:
- 2018 Information Memorandum, Reshaping child welfare in the United States to focus on strengthening families through primary prevention of child maltreatment and unnecessary parent-child separation strongly encourages child welfare agencies and Children's Bureau grantees to work together with the courts and other key partners to plan, implement and maintain primary prevention networks
- 2019 Prevention Resource Guide focuses on protective factors that can encourage healthy child development, and includes tip sheets in English and Spanish to help parents and caregivers learn how to create healthy home environments and cope with adverse childhood experiences.
- Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention programs strengthen protective factors in a child's environment that predict positive outcomes later in life through voluntary home visiting, family resource centers, respite, crisis care, and other efforts.
OJJDP joins HHS in recognizing that prevention is essential and supports our community partners as they work to prevent child abuse and mitigate its negative effects:
- The OJJDP-supported National Children's Alliance has launched the SHINE Campaign, which lifts up the voices of survivors and empowers communities to better serve victims of child abuse.
- In 2018, OJJDP awarded approximately $83 million to develop and enhance mentoring programs nationwide. During April, the agency's National Mentoring Resource Center is offering special webinars, a blog, and a newsletter that highlight creative partnerships between mentoring organizations and child welfare agencies.
- Through OJJDP's Victims of Child Abuse Act programs, more than 880 local children's advocacy centers, which coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases, provided services to nearly 335,000 children and training to almost 2 million people last year, while an OJJDP- supported network of 937 state and local court appointed special advocate programs served more than 233,000 abused and neglected children.
- The OJJDP-funded Enhancing Police Responses to Children Exposed to Violence: A Toolkit for Law Enforcement developed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and Yale University, provides trainings, tools, and classes to prepare frontline police officers to respond effectively to children exposed to violence.
The Children's Bureau and OJJDP are deeply committed to keeping children safe and meeting their needs at the local level. With our state and local partners, we can provide all children with safe, stable and nurturing homes and communities.