Archive for the ‘Safe Kids South Carolina’ Category
Evidence-based family strengthening practice involves identifying, assessing, and implementing strategies that are supported by scientific research as being effective. Just as we expect our family physician to keep abreast of which treatment options work best, we want to use evidence in our own work to:
- Ensure we are integrating the best available research with current child abuse prevention program expertise to guide our work with children and families.
- Invest our limited dollars in programs and practices backed by evidence that shows they produce positive outcomes for children and families.
- Become more informed funders, consumers, and community partners to prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Foster a culture of continuous quality improvement by promoting ongoing evaluation and quality assurance activities across all prevention and family supported programs.
The terms “evidence-based” and “evidence-informed” are defined differently in different contexts. Evidence-based practices are approaches to prevention or treatment that are validated by some form of documented scientific evidence. This includes findings established through controlled clinical studies, but other methods of establishing evidence are valid as well. Evidence-based programs use a defined curriculum or set of services that, when implemented with fidelity as a whole, has been validated by some form of scientific evidence. Evidence-based practices and programs may be described as “supported” or “well-supported,” depending on the strength of the research design.
Evidence-informed practices use the best available research and practice knowledge to guide program design and implementation. This informed practice allows for innovation while incorporating the lessons learned from the existing research literature. Ideally, evidence-based and evidence-informed programs and practices should be responsive to families’ cultural backgrounds, community values, and individual preferences.
Evidence-Based/Evidence-Informed Programs and Practices for Family Strengthening and Child Abuse Prevention
Research has identified a number of evidence-based and evidence-informed programs and practices that strengthen families and reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect. National registries and websites provide more detailed information about particular programs. Readers are encouraged to evaluate the level of evidence available for any specific program, as well as to consider its appropriateness for specific families and communities. Some strategies that have been identified as evidence-based include:
- Family-centered interventions
- Individualized community supports
- In-home services
- Family-centered community building
- Parent education
Selecting and Implementing Evidence-Based/Evidence-Informed Programs and Practices
Selecting and implementing the appropriate evidence-based or evidence-informed programs and practices can be daunting. The FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention, with the help of State and national partners, developed Integrating Evidence-Based Practices into CBCAP Programs A Tool for Critical Discussions. This Discussion Tool was designed to promote conversations and careful thought to guide child abuse and neglect prevention programs in the selection, implementation, documentation, and evaluation of evidence-based or evidence-informed programs and practices.
The Discussion Tool was developed for use in a training environment with a skilled technical assistance provider. However, FRIENDS has made the Discussion Tool’s Introduction and Appendices available on its website. For more information about the Discussion Tool, visit: www.friendsnrc.org/CBCAP/priority/evidence.htm
The following online resources identify evidence-based programs. This is not an endorsement or an exhaustive list of resources. It is important to note that each registry may use different criteria to evaluate the strength of a program’s supporting evidence.
Blueprints for Violence Prevention (Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence)
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare
Guide for Child Welfare Administrators on Evidence Based Practice
(National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators)
Model Programs Guide (The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention)
National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)
Promising Practices Network
In addition, Identifying and Selecting Evidence-Based Interventions, published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers guidance on how to determine which evidence-based practices and programs are the best fit for a specific organization’s goals:
Deepening and Sustaining a Protective-Factors Approach
Adapted from the center for the study of social policies strengthening family initiative
Implementing a protective-factors approach to child abuse and neglect prevention is more than just implementing a model or starting a new prevention program. It means engaging the programs, services, and systems that are already supporting and working with children and families as partners in preventing maltreatment and promoting optimal development.
To do this, States participating in the Strengthening Families National Network are using three “levers for change.” These are high-level approaches to effecting sweeping changes in how we support communities and families to become stronger and better able to provide children with safe and happy childhoods. The three levers for change are:
- Parent partnerships
- Professional development
- Policies and systems
Parent partnerships are one way to make sure that prevention strategies (a) are responsive and relevant to all kinds of family needs and choices and (b) model the relationships among families, service providers, and community resources that can promote the best possible environment for children’s development. Parent partnerships work when many parents are consistently involved as decision- makers in program planning, implementation, and assessment.
Suggestions for implementing parent partnerships:
- Partner with parent organizations.
- Create and maintain prominent leadership roles for parents.
- Learn about what motivates parents to engage in program leadership.
- Provide leadership training and support for parents.
- Create opportunities for parents to engage directly around the protective factors.
- Designate specific resources for parent engagement, participation, and leadership
Illinois and Washington have developed models for semi-structured conversations among parents that focus on building protective factors, promoting parent leadership, and creating lasting partnerships throughout communities. Strengthening Families Kansas launched a research initiative to better understand how parents access the support they need to nurture their children, and how agencies use parent input to inform program and practice changes,
Infusing the protective factors into training for all people who work with children and families helps build a workforce with common knowledge, goals, and language. Professionals at every level, from frontline workers to supervisors and administrators, require protective-factors training that is tailored to their role. Such training should impart a cohesive message focused on strengthening families.
Strategies for enhancing professional development:
- Provide trainings on protective factors to current trainers to leverage existing training capacity.
- Integrate strengthening families themes and the protective factors into college, continuing education, and certificate programs for those working with children and families.
- Incorporate family strengthening concepts into new worker trainings.
- Develop online training and distance learning opportunities.
- Provide training at conferences and meetings.
- Reinforce family strengthening training with structured mechanisms for continued support, such as reflective supervision and ongoing mentoring.
Strengthening Families Alaska is being integrated into the social work and early childhood coursework at two of the State’s universities. Initiatives in Missouri and Arkansas are adapting child care resource and referral contracts to provide incentives for offering training on the protective factors.
Policies and Systems
AN effective protective-factors approach includes coordination across diverse initiatives, using common language and goals for families in all levels of work. The common focal point is building protective factors in families for the prevention of maltreatment and optimal development of all children. Integrating a protective-factors approach into regulations and procedures that govern everyday practice in child and family services is an effective way to create broad and sustainable change.
Strategies for building collaboration across systems:
- Engage multidisciplinary partners.
- Link to cross-systems planning efforts.
- Adapt contractual methods for funding and defining programs to include a protective factors focus.
- Use protective factors to define a shared set of desired outcomes for families across systems and disciplines.
- Identify the State agencies that fund early childhood initiatives and engage these agencies in planning and implementing family strengthening activities.
- Revise job requirements, performance reviews, tools, assessment forms, and performance contracts to reflect a protective-factors approach to working with children and families.
Massachusetts has aligned $15 million in contracts from three separate funding sources around building the protective factors. Strengthening Families Georgia is exploring integration of protective factors into its child care licensing procedures.
CDC’s Strategic Direction for Child Maltreatment Prevention
The protective factors described throughout this resource guide support safe, stable, and nurturing relationships (SSNRs) between children and adults. SSNRs between children and their caregivers are the antithesis of maltreatment and other adverse exposures that occur during childhood and compromise health over the lifespan. Healthy relationships are fundamental to the development of the brain and to children’s physical, emotional, social, behavioral, and intellectual capacities.
Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
- Safety. Safety refers to the extent to which a child is free from fear and secure from physical or psychological harm within his or her social and physical environment.
- Stability. This refers to the degree of predictability and consistency in a child’s environment. Families that are stable and have regular routines provide children with the consistency needed to lessen the impact of stressful experiences.
- Nurture. Nurture refers to the extent to which a parent or caregiver is available and able to sensitively respond to and meet the needs of their child.
Importance of Social Context
To promote SSNRs and prevent child maltreatment effectively, it is critical to address social determinants such as neighborhood economic distress, lack of social support, social norms, and policies. Social contexts help to create and support SSNRs and/or child maltreatment. Understanding the role that these social factors play, as well as interventions that work to address them, may improve our ability to plan and implement effective prevention policies.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strategy to prevent child maltreatment is organized around four priorities:
- Monitor fatal and nonfatal child maltreatment at national and State levels.
- Develop and monitor specific, valid, and reliable measures of SSNRs.
- Identify and quantify the social and economic burden of child maltreatment.
Creating and Evaluating New Approaches to Prevention
- Identify populations at risk, modifiable risk and protective factors, and the best times at settings for interventions.
- Evaluate parenting-focused prevention strategies.
- Evaluate public and organization policies for prevention.
Applying and Adapting Effective Practices
- Accelerate adoption and adaptation of evidence-based prevention strategies.
Building Community Readiness
- Build community capacity to implement evidence-based prevention approaches.
- Develop prevention and strategy tools for communities and organizations.
- Establish partnerships that facilitate dissemination and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies.
Learn more about this and other CDC prevention strategies on the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Website: www.cdc.gov/injury
Protective factors are conditions in families and communities, that when present, increase the health and well-being of children and families. They are attributes that serve as buffers, helping parents who might otherwise be at risk of abusing their children to find resources, supports, or coping strategies that allow them to parent, even under stress.
For years, researchers have been studying both the risk factors common among families experiencing abuse and neglect and those factors that protect families who are under stress. There is growing interest in understanding the complex ways in which these risk and protective factors interact, within the context of a child’s family, community, and society, to affect both the incidence and consequences of abuse and neglect.
Why Focus on Promoting Protective Factors?
Research has found that successful interventions must both reduce risk factors and promote protective factors to ensure the well-being of children and families. Focusing on promoting protective factors is a more productive approach than reducing risk factors alone because:
- Protective factors are positive attributes that strengthen all families. A universal approach helps get needed support to families that may not meet the criteria for “at-risk” services, but who are dealing with stressors that could lead them to abuse or neglect.
- Focusing on protective factors, which are attributes that families themselves often want to build, helps service providers develop positive relationships with parents. This positive relationship is especially critical for parents who may be reluctant to disclose concerns or identify behaviors or circumstances that may place their families at risk.
- When service providers work with families to increase protective factors,, they also help families build and draw on natural support networks within their family and community. These networks are critical to families’ long-term success.
Which Protective Factors are Most Important?
Research has shown that the following protective factors are linked to a lower incidence of child abuse and neglect.
- Nurturing and Attachment. A child’s early experience of being nurtured and developing a bond with a caring adult affects all aspects of behavior and development. When parents and children have strong, warm feelings for one another, children develop trust that their parents will provide what they need to thrive, including love, acceptance, positive guidance, and protection.
- Knowledge of Parenting and of Child and Youth Development. Discipline is both more effective and more nurturing when parents know how to set and enforce limits and encourage appropriate behaviors based on the child’s age and level of development. Parents who understand how children grow and develop can provide an environment where children can live up to their potential. Child abuse and neglect are often associated with a lack of understanding of basic child development or an inability to put that knowledge into action. Timely mentoring, coaching, advice, and practice may be more useful to parents than information alone.
- Parental Resilience. Resilience is the ability to handle everyday stressors and recover from occasional crises. Parents who are emotionally resilient have a positive attitude, creatively solve problems, effectively address challenges, and are less likely to direct anger and frustration at their children. In addition, these parents are aware of their own challenges- for example, those arising from inappropriate parenting they received as children- and accept help and/or counseling when needed.
- Social Connections. Evidence links social isolation and perceived lack of support to child maltreatment. Trusted and caring family and friends provide emotional support to parents by offering encouragement and assistance in facing the daily challenges of raising a family. Supportive adults in the family and the community can model alternative parenting styles and can serve as resources for parents when they need help.
- Concrete Supports for Parents. Many factors beyond the parent-child relationship affect a family;s ability to care for their children. Parents need basic resources such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, and access to essential services that address family-specific needs (such as child care and heath care) to ensure the heath and well-being of their children. Some families may also need support connecting to social services such as alcohol and drug treatment, domestic violence counseling, or public benefits. Providing or connecting families to the concrete supports that families need is critical. These combined efforts help families cope with stress and prevent situations where maltreatment could occur.
These protective factors are critical for all parents and caregivers, regardless of the child’s age, sex, ethnicity or racial heritage, economic status, special needs, or whether he or she is raised by a single, marred, or divorced parent or other caregivers. All of these factors work together to reinforce each other; for example, parents are more likely to be resilient in times of stress when they have social connections and a strong attachment to their children. Protective factors can provide a helpful conceptual framework for guiding any provider’s work with children and their families.
- Keep the computer in a common room, where you can monitor whom your child is talking to and what websites they are browsing.
- Educate yourself. Teenagers’ cell phones and computers are living diaries of their friends, activities and whereabouts. Know the people listed in their electronic phone book and learn how to review calls and text messages (Check the manuals for instructions).
- Establish rules and guidelines with your children. Explain what websites are ok for them to use and what sites, chat rooms, games, blogs, or certain music downloads are off limits. Discuss consequences for breaking the rules.
- Monitor your teen’s emails and Instant Messaging. Know who your teen is communicating with online. Review his/her cell phone and Instant Message contact lists. Check their e-mail address book on a regular basis and ask about any unfamiliar addresses. Use every available opportunity to meet and get to know these friends AND their parents.
- Enforce the consequences. For example, if you catch your teen Instant Messaging someone they don’t personally know, take away the computer, Blackberry, or cell phone privileges for an extended period of time.
- Be sure that your children’s screen names are appropriate and NOT suggestive, like “sexyteen05” or “cutegirl6.” Predators are more likely to pursue children with sexually suggestive names.
- Visit your teen’s website or personal blog. Review their profiles, pictures, and video/music uploads. Check the links that your teen includes on his/her page. Make sure that the information on these pages is appropriate.
- Communicate regularly (not just once!) with your children about the benefits and dangers of the Internet. Reinforce the fact that people are NOT always who they say they are. It is very easy for a 56-year old male to pose as a 13- year old teenage girl when chatting online. Stress the importance of telling an adult if someone is making them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused online.
- Tell your child to NEVER reveal their name, address, phone number, picture of any other personal information to ANYONE online (or through other digital devices). Children may think that giving a first name or picture is harmless, but predators can easily use that information to track your children’s last name, address, school, etc. Once that information is on the Internet, it is impossible to retract.
- Learn the lingo! Teens use their own language to communicate online and via text messaging. Do you know what the acronyms “TAW,” “POS,” or “LMIRL”* mean? Your children do and they use acronyms like these to keep you in the dark. When text messaging, teens may write in phrases like “cu l8r” (See you later). Parents can go to teenangels.com and type acronyms into an active “Chat Translator” to decode what their teens are saying.
- Consider investing in monitoring or filtering software. Software can help parents limit access to certain areas and material online. It can also help parents see their children’s IM conversations, e-mails and websites they are viewing online. Please note however that this software is NOT meant to be a substitute for parental monitoring and active involvement.
For more information on how to keep your children safe online and with wireless devices, check the following websites: netsmartz.com; safekids.com; ncmec.org; getnetwise.org; theantidrug.com. To report any disturbing incidents or suspected predators, go to cybertipline.com or call 1-800-THE LOST (1-800-843-5678).
* (TAW: Teachers are watching, POS: Parent over shoulder, LMIRL: Let’s meet in real life)
Today’s world is full of technology. As a parent, you may be feeling like your children live on an alternate planet, speaking their own language. Every time you turn on the television, there are advertisements for the latest cell phones, computers, hand-helds, and more. These personal technology devices can provide positive information and connection to a greater community. They can even be convenient ways for your teens to keep in touch with you if their plans or schedules change, but there is a dark side. The Internet and other personal technology devices can open a world of danger for children and put them at great risk for sexual solicitation.
One in seven children are sexually solicited online each year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.ncmec.org). Online sexual solicitation is defined as “unprovoked, uninvited, or unwanted requests to engage in sexual activities, engage in sexually explicit conversations, or give personal sexual information.” The awareness surrounding sexual solicitation via the Internet has increased dramatically in the past couple of years, due to the alarming number of children being targeted and victimized.
Teens are very creative when it comes to using their cell phones and other wireless devices. Instead of passing notes in class, they send text messages. Additionally, they can access the Internet from their phones and download pictures, videos and music. Wireless devices are an instant and constant source of information, from fi nding the latest party to contacting the closest drug dealer. They can also receive messages from anyone, friend or not, as long as the other person has the cell phone number.
Similarly, teens use the Internet as one of their primary methods of communicating with friends. Websites like myspace.com, friendster.com, facebook.com, blogspot.com, etc., and messaging services like AOL, Yahoo or MSN Instant Messenger, allow teens to post pictures of themselves, set up personal websites, post blogs, and chat live with friends. Unfortunately, these sites also allow for predators to easily seek out potential victims, as they can search for users by location, age, etc., and pretend to be the child’s peer.
The Internet is still the biggest tool that predators are using to target children, but cell phones, and hand-held computers are among the new tools that they are using to keep ahead of the game. Many cell phones now come equipped with the ability to take pictures and video, making it very easy for predators to transmit pornographic images. Children are being photographed and recorded without their knowledge or consent and these images are making their way onto the Internet and via wireless networks. You may have heard or seen news stories of predators using cell phones to take pictures underneath girls’ skirts,
in locker rooms, etc.
Fortunately, there is a lot you can do as a parent to keep your children safe. The single most important thing you can do is: EDUCATE YOURSELF. The following are some tips that you can follow to help keep your children safe from online predators.