April: Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month
Children’s Home Society of Florida advocates for fundamental changes to better protect children
Last year, 432 children died in Florida; 122 were caused by abuse or neglect. Though this represents a 6 percent decrease in child deaths attributed to abuse or neglect* over the prior year, it is a grim reminder that more work must be done to prevent such tragedies.
“We must intensify our commitment and never lose sight of the fact that each death represents the life of a child cut far too short,” says David Bundy, president and CEO of Children’s Home Society of Florida. “It’s urgent that we make crucial fundamental changes within our child welfare system to better protect children from ever suffering the tragedies of abuse.”
As child welfare reform is a primary issue this legislative session, Children’s Home Society of Florida advocates for key changes within the system, including to:
1. Invest adequately in the child protection system at all levels – from investigations to services – and address the constant turnover in this difficult field.
2. Examine and revise statutes to ensure the protection of parents’ rights does not become a barrier to protecting the lives of their children. Legislative changes must allow child welfare and judicial systems to consider parents’ comprehensive history, including prior terminations of parental rights – voluntary or involuntary – when determining if parents will receive another chance to raise their children.
3. Better prepare incoming professionals by developing a robust, university-based program that incentivizes students to pursue rewarding yet challenging careers protecting Florida's children.
In addition to fundamental system changes, there must be a continued emphasis on preventing abuse and neglect before it occurs. Children's Home Society of Florida’s commitment to protecting more children from suffering abuse is evident in its multiple voluntary in-home programs that strengthen families and help parents understand the responsibilities of and how to appropriately cope with stresses of raising a child. One such prevention program, Healthy Families, has a 98 percent success rate.
In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, Children's Home Society of Florida urges the community to remember the lives lost to abuse and to advocate for fundamental changes and funding to protect more children from suffering similar tragedies. If you ever suspect abuse, call 1-800-96-ABUSE.