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April 2016Vol. 17, No. 2Commissioner's Page

The following is the monthly message from Rafael López, the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF). Each message focuses on the current Children's Bureau Express Spotlight theme and highlights the Bureau's work on the topic.

Each year during the month of April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM) reminds us that we all have a role to play in helping to prevent the maltreatment of children. As noted in the 2014 Child Maltreatment Report, the number and rate of victims of maltreatment have fluctuated during the past 5 years. Although comparing the national estimate of victims from 2010 (698,000) to 2014 (702,000) shows an increase of less than 1 percent, the number of victims has risen steadily over the past few years, reversing a long trend of decline. This reminds us that a great deal of work needs to be done to lower this number, and each and every one of us has the opportunity to lend a hand in this important work. We know that families where children are at risk of child maltreatment also have higher rates of substance use and domestic violence. In 2014, 26 percent of children who were victims of maltreatment had at least one caregiver who struggled with drug abuse, and 26.6 percent of victims came from families experiencing domestic violence. It is important that we have an array of prevention services available in our communities to support families before they become involved with the child welfare system.

The 2016 NCAPM theme, "Building Community, Building Hope," points to the impact all community members can make in securing child and family well-being. Visit the initiative website to learn more and to access the 2016 Prevention Resource Guide: Building Community, Building Hope, where you will find resources and information to help child welfare professionals engage communities in prevention efforts. Involving cross-sector organizations, programs, and community members in the conversation around maltreatment prevention can help ensure that families have strong and wide-reaching support nets and integrated services. ACYF supports many programs and initiatives working toward a more holistic approach to maltreatment prevention and the promotion of well-being for our nation's families.

For example, ACYF manages the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) grant program. The purpose of the program is:

  • To support community-based efforts to develop, operate, expand, enhance, and coordinate initiatives, programs, and activities to prevent child abuse and neglect and to support the coordination of resources and activities to better strengthen and support families to reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect
  • To foster understanding, appreciation, and knowledge of diverse populations to effectively prevent and treat child abuse and neglect

Funded in every State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, CBCAP programs are encouraged to blend Federal, State, and private funds to support a coordinated array of community-based prevention and family support activities. Examples of activities funded by CBCAP include voluntary home visiting programs, parent education and skills development, respite and crisis care, parent mutual support, community outreach, referrals to health and development services, family resource centers, and other family support programs. The program encourages the use of evidence-based and evidence-informed prevention programs and the integration of protective factors into interventions with children, youth, and families. In addition, the program emphasizes both interagency collaboration and parent involvement. To learn more, visit or

ACYF's Family and Youth Services Bureau recently awarded Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) Grants to several Native American Tribes (including Alaska Native Villages) and Tribal organizations. These grants aim to assist Tribes in efforts to increase public awareness about and prevention of family violence, domestic violence, and dating violence. In addition, the grants will help provide immediate shelter and supportive services for victims of family violence, domestic violence, or dating violence, and their dependents ( To learn more about domestic violence services provided by these State and Tribal grantee communities, see

The FVPSA Program supports an online resource center, Promising Futures: Best Practices for Serving Children, Youth, and Parents Experiencing Domestic Violence (Promising Futures), to connect service providers and case workers to research, training, and evidence-informed interventions. Promising Futures focuses on improving the social and emotional well-being of children, youth, and abused parents facing domestic violence. Service providers can access literature reviews, infographics, interventions, and program profiles to increase their knowledge of current practice and achieve better outcomes for families. To learn more, please review the following resources:

Lastly, the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health offers foundational training and consultation for domestic violence programs and mental health clinicians. The Child Trauma Capacity Building Project provides domestic violence programs with a trauma-informed, developmentally sensitive framework for working with children and their non-offending parents. This 12-hour curriculum builds core competencies for domestic violence programs and provides practical tools and handouts for parents and staff. To learn more, visit

From August 31 to September 2 of this year, community leaders will gather at the 20th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, which will focus on "Building Community, Building Hope" in acknowledgement of the power communities have in solving the problem of child abuse and neglect. We must continue to integrate our work so that families receive the help and support they need, when they need it. To learn more, visit the conference website at

Helping children and families thrive in safe and stable environments should be a priority goal in every community across the nation. Supportive communities lead to healthier and happier families, who can help shape a community's culture of hope and problem-solving partnerships.