By Beverly Hamilton

This year, Congress can help end child abuse and neglect in this country by providing states and communities with additional resources for community-based solutions that keep kids safe and build stronger families.

Beverly HamiltonThis enhanced investment in Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) programs, provided through Title II of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), will provide states and communities with additional resources that can mitigate a range of challenges and stressors on families.

CBCAP funding is already hard at work in South Carolina, building and supporting a network of family resource centers. Family resource centers provide services, including parenting classes, support groups, early childhood education, information and referrals, family counseling and emergency assistance. These centers are there when families need help – before they reach a point of crisis that can lead to child welfare system involvement.

However, we can only serve a small fraction of those who need help. Last year, 16,000 South Carolina children were in substantiated cases of child abuse and neglect, enough to almost fill the Colonial Life Arena or 32 elementary schools. We can do better.

Our friends at Prevent Child Abuse America say, “Prevention happens in Partnership.” Here is why I believe so strongly in community-based solutions.

  1. Community-based prevention programs are tailored to local needs. Funding provided through CBCAP supports local programs, proven to be effective for their unique communities and families.
  2. Prevention is cost-effective. By investing upstream, we save money by reducing the need for more expensive interventions, such as foster care, mental health treatment, and law enforcement involvement.
  3. Prevention programs help build strong families. Children thrive when adults invest in their care and well-being and when communities wrap families in love and support.
  4. Prevention is key to ending the cycle of abuse. Child abuse is often a generational issue, with victims of abuse more likely to become abusers themselves. Prevention programs can break the cycle of abuse and promote healthier families and communities.

Today is a national day of action. Whether today, tomorrow or next week, join me in contacting our elected members of the South Carolina congressional delegation and urging them to increase the prevention investment for Title II, Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grants of the Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act. Find your representative or use this Take Action tool.

South Carolina children need us, and they need you. Together, we can prevent child abuse.

Beverly Hamilton is vice chair of the Board of Directors for Children’s Trust of South Carolina. Children’s Trust administers the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention funding in South Carolina.

The Policy Forum takes an in-depth look at policy areas that impact children and families. It features guest columns from social workers, public health professionals, academic experts, legislators, and family-serving organizational leaders. To be a contributing writer, fill out this form.