August 2016Vol. 17, No. 6Community Building for Improved Child Safety, Well-Being
A community-building approach to preventing child abuse and neglect has shown promising results, as reported in a white paper produced by Strong Communities for Children (Strong Communities), a large-scale initiative aimed at preventing child abuse and neglect through the establishment of watchful and supportive neighborhood communities. The Strong Communities program grew out of a 1991 call for a neighborhood-based child protection system by the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect and is premised on cultivating and training local support systems to help keep children safe and strengthen communities.
The paper, which was produced on behalf of Upbring, a Texas-based nonprofit social services agency, shows that after a 3-year period of implementing the Strong Communities model, neighborhoods in the South Carolina pilot area saw an 11-percent decrease in maltreatment in children age 2 and under and a 41-percent decrease in children age 4 and under, fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and improved parenting practices.
The Strong Communities model has four phases: (1) educating the community on child maltreatment, (2) mobilizing the community, (3) accessing resources, and (4) institutionalizing resources and providing training and technical assistance.
The objectives of Strong Communities are threefold: (1) build a family's social support network, (2) encourage community reciprocity and mutual support, and (3) provide professional support when needed.
Access the paper How Can Strong Communities Transform Community Norms and Structures to Promote Children's Safety and Well-Being? at http://www.upbring.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/white-paper-strong-communities.pdf (259 KB).