Child fatalities and the continuum of prevention services
In mid-March the Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities released their full report, Within our Reach: A National Strategy to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Our organization was one among many that gave testimony the the CECANF on this issue, and while we appreciated the opportunity to be involved in the process, we did see areas of issue in the final report, and below is our official statement that outlines those concerns.
A Response to a Report on Child Fatalities, Within Our Reach
Our organization is grateful to have been included as a key informant by the Commission to End Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities since the beginning of the process. The respect shown by the Commission to the many different stakeholders and organizations involved in this cause is a testament to a truth that we in this field already know: there is no one silver bullet to end child abuse and neglect. We all have a role to play in the prevention of abuse and neglect, and we know it takes a continuum of programs and services to make a significant positive difference in the lives of children and families across the country.
It is on this latter point that we believe the Commission could have gone further with its recommendations. In their final report, the Commission could have promoted the diverse set of programs that are making a difference, instead of choosing only to identify one evidence-based home visiting model because we know it is but one among the continuum of programs that are showing promising and diverse effects on strengthening families and preventing child abuse and neglect.
The federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has identified 17 home visiting models that are evidenced-based and show positive outcomes for children and families. One of these programs is Healthy Families America, a home visiting model that has had demonstrable, positive impacts in areas that reduce the likelihood of fatalities, like strengthening family resources, positive parenting, and children’s health, while reducing parenting stress, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect.
Programs that can deliver effects like these are the kind of positive outcomes the Commission can and should advocate for; doing so speaks to both the power and need for a continuum of programs leading to community wide change. The Commission and others who seek to create a real change have the opportunity to promote the varying programs that lead to these kind of outcomes, regardless of whether the model is NFP, HFA, Parents as Teachers or Early Head Start or any of the programs identified and funded by the federal MIECHV program.
These home visiting model developers work together to extend the availability of services so that all children in need and all families that could benefit from support are offered services. To isolate and recommend only one model is to exclude families in need and leave vulnerable untold numbers of children. We believe in the work of the Commission. And we also strongly believe in the work of HFA, NFP, and other programs, models and services that are working in concert to help create the great childhoods that all children deserve. The reduction, and hopefully elimination, of child abuse and neglect fatalities is a critical and noble goal. We know that this goal is best achieved by breaking down silos and working together.
News of note: the hfa newsletter
Our News of Note newsletter is the main way that our national office connects with sites across the country to share the recent happenings, successes and insights into HFA and the home visiting field as a whole.
Interested in learning about what's going on in HFA right now? Check out the most recent issue by clicking on the image to the right, or read some of our archived issues below.