Doing Things Differently to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect





Doing Things Differently to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

By Arnie Eby


April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. In this guest post, Arnie Eby, foster and adoptive parent and Executive Director of the National Foster Parent Association (NFPA), a National Center partner organization, writes about the Children’s Bureau’s free resource guide for preventing abuse and neglect. We believe the theme, “Doing Things Differently: Moving From the Challenge to the Change” aligns with our mission at the National Center to bring about systemic change and improve mental health outcomes for children and families.


Child welfare and mental health systems can prioritize strengthening families and this free Prevention Resource Guide developed by the Children’s Bureau in the Department of Health & Human Services, is an example of how to do so. It takes a new look at innovative ways and provides concrete examples to make changes in preventing child abuse and neglect. The theme for the Guide this year is “Doing Things Differently: Moving From the Challenge to the Change.”


A Focus on Lived Experience

What is different you ask? Well, first and foremost this was developed with direct input from individuals with lived experience with a focus on emphasizing parent strengths. Parents and caregivers are experts on their family’s strengths, so this Guide looks at how parents nurture and meet their family’s needs.


The Value of A Strong Family Unit

It’s important to understand how positive experiences, including supportive environments and strong relationships with family and peers, influences brain development and ultimately improves mental health. This is why the familial relationship is considered the key healing environment in child welfare competent mental health services. Strengthening the family unit will help improve mental health outcomes for children.


Final Thoughts

This resource guide is a roadmap for delivering resources and services that make a difference starting with laying the foundation to a holistic approach to building proactive child and family well-being systems, with lots of examples, links to other resources, and at the end of each chapter, questions to consider. The conversation guides are well done and provide ready-to-use conversation pieces to have with parents and children. It’s also available in Spanish.


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