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April 2000Vol. 1, No. 2Panelists Tell How To Strengthen Prevention Efforts

To prevent child abuse and neglect, professionals should work to expand bipartisan advocacy efforts and strengthen the institutional infrastructure that supports prevention programs.

So said speakers at a prevention-focused conference sponsored by the Children's Bureau in March.

The National Prevention Conference for Federally Funded Prevention Programs, held March 8-10 in Alexandria, Virginia, brought together Federal, State, and other professionals responsible for implementing Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Research and Demonstration Projects administered by the Children's Bureau.

At a March 9 session, leaders of national prevention-focused groups shared their ideas for promoting prevention among elected officials, policy makers, and communities at large. Key points made by the speakers included the following:

  • Individuals and groups concerned with prevention should work cooperatively and in a bipartisan way to secure full funding of the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) when it comes before Congress for reauthorization this year.
  • Securing an increase in CAPTA funding is a realistic goal given a projected Federal budget surplus of $14 billion as well as other potential pools of funding, such as unspent Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. "Targeting $98 million to fully fund CAPTA sounds like a lot, but it's .007 percent of this year's surplus-it barely rounds to 1 percent," said Sidney Johnson, president of Prevent Child Abuse America.
  • Along with funding, the reauthorization of CAPTA offers an opportunity to strengthen the Federal, State, and local infrastructure that supports prevention programs. "We must look at the content of CAPTA . . . for program improvements and system improvements," said David Mills, executive director, National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds.
  • Child welfare professionals should pursue partnerships with other professions and institutions to advance prevention. Government, health care, education, business, faith organizations, and the media all are stakeholders, noted Teresa Rafael, vice president of Parents Anonymous, Inc. To secure cooperation, "you might need to use different language," she said. For example, to educators, prevention might translate into readiness to learn while health care professionals might focus on wellness.
  • A presidential election year is a particularly important time to promote prevention among candidates for elected offices. "We need to be compassionate healers with sharp elbows," said Johnson. "We need to influence what goes on, not just monitor. We need to be assertive."

To learn more about prevention, visit the new "Power of Prevention" website launched by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information at (Note: the "Power of Prevention" link is no longer available; child abuse prevention information and resources can be found at To learn more about Children's Bureau programs, visit To learn more about the groups represented by the panelists at the conference session discussed in this article, see the contact information, below.

National Alliance of Children's Trust and Prevention Funds (ACT)
Department of Psychology
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1117
PHONE: (517) 432-5096
FAX: (517) 432-2476

The mission of the National Alliance is to build and maintain a system of services, laws, practices, and attitudes that prevent child abuse and neglect. The Alliance assists Children's Trust and Prevention Funds at the State and national levels.

Parents Anonymous, Inc.
675 W. Foothill Blvd., Suite 220
Claremont, CA 91711
PHONE: (909) 621-6184
FAX: (909) 625-6304

Parents Anonymous encourages all parents to ask for help early to effectively break the cycle of abuse. To ensure accessibility to all community members, Parents Anonymous groups meet in local community centers, churches, schools, housing projects, shelters, and prisons. Parents Anonymous also operates local 24-hour hotlines to provide an immediate response to parents seeking help.

Prevent Child Abuse America
200 S. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor
Chicago, IL 60604-2404
PHONE: (800) CHILDREN or (312)663-3520
FAX: (312) 939-8962

Prevent Child Abuse America promotes healthy parenting and community involvement as effective strategies for preventing all forms of child abuse. The organization's nationwide network of chapters and local affiliates work to implement direct service programs in hundreds of communities.