Not having a plan is having a plan to fail.

January 15, 2019

Community planners, policy makers and community foundations play a significant role in the prevention of child maltreatment by building communities that are family-friendly. Colorado launched the Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action in April 2017 to help promote child well-being on the local-level and give local leaders a tool to plan for success. Fifteen communities received financial support and technical assistance to use the Framework tool in a community planning process, one of which was Teller County, putting the community on the cutting-edge of planning efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Including more than just the usual suspects.

Getting community leaders on-board for Teller County’s community child maltreatment prevention planning was initially a challenge as many of the participants were suffering from “planning fatigue” and thought that more funding for services - not more planning - should be the priority. However, once meetings got underway, it became apparent how important and impactful the process would be. “This process was so impactful for our community, due in part to the diverse stakeholder perspectives that were included from the beginning,” said Jodi Mijares, executive director of Community Partnership Family Resource Center, the lead organization which applied for and received the community planning grant. In addition to the usual suspects from the county’s public health and human services, leaders from the school district, law enforcement, workforce center and county government joined the conversation along with local parents. For example, the Head Start representative had never spent time with the workforce center representative, and both realized that they could work together in various ways to better serve families.

Teller County really listened to parents.

Input from Teller County parents became an invaluable part of the process and guided many of the final goals. “To get honest feedback from parents about what is and isn’t working in our community was an important wake-up call for many of us, and allowed us to create a more effective plan to serve the families that need it most,” said Mijares.

A majority of Teller County parents are familiar with services but a much lower percentage use those services. Parents were asking for advice or information about raising children much less frequently than parents do statewide, indicating a possible local stigma around asking for parent education or support.

A fundamental element of child maltreatment prevention in any community is parent access to the support they need to care for their children. After months of careful data collection and analysis, Teller County discovered the community already had many of the programs in place to strengthen families. What was missing was the coordination among the service providers and a way to make accessing services easier and less intimidating for families.

Taking the next step doesn’t always require more money.

While some of the objectives outlined in Teller County’s community child maltreatment prevention plan will require additional funding to implement, the wheels are already in motion to achieve their goals. One change the team decided to make is to move its Collaborative Management Program’s wraparound program to the Community Partnership Family Resource Center. This allows for more coordination and integration among the programs and ensures that the families who need that support can access it in a more efficient and convenient way, which in turn, should lead to increased engagement with programs.

To ensure families have the opportunity to interact with each other and build social capital, the Community Partnership Family Resource Center also made a decision to incorporate a facility expansion into its strategic plan. In addition, the family resource center will hire more family advocates to help families access the services they need to thrive.

“One agency alone cannot impact child abuse and neglect prevention,” added Mijares. “You need everyone to come together and participate in order to realize better outcomes for our children. It truly does take a village.”

How Teller County plans to prevent child maltreatment

Teller County’s Community Child Maltreatment Prevention Plan includes five primary goals and corresponding objectives:

  • Expand family support services available to families
    • Expand family advocate support and services available to a level that eliminates wait lists for families seeking family support services and preventive/universal support within the community
  • Impact community norm around accessing parent/family support programs
    • Launch a community-wide stigma-reduction campaign impacting parental help-seeking attitudes as evidenced by a positive increase in parent survey responses to the frequency of seeking help and asking for advice/information about raising children
  • Increase opportunities for families to build social capital and reduce parental isolation, resulting in increased parent engagement and protective factors for families
    • Identify an opportunity to build a centrally located family center that serves all of Teller County, and provides an accessible space for families to interact and build social capital, access available resources, and engage in their community
  • Reduce the barriers and frustration that families experience in accessing family support services
    • Established inter-agency referral and communication policies and procedures will streamline the intake process for families accessing services and will result in an increase in number of successful referrals to additional services and an improved continuum of care
  • Expand evidence-based practices in family support services to reduce child abuse and neglect
    • Implement and expand evidence-based practices throughout the matrix of partner agencies to ensure measurable outcomes and performance monitoring for family support services

Visit the Teller County Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action coalition page to find out more about their partners, process and progress. 

More about the Colorado Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action 

 

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