April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

From the Director of Public Health and Social Services

The month of April is devoted to celebrating everything we can do to transform our community into a place that actively supports children and families.  April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In Fiscal Year 2013, Guam Child Protective Services received a total of 1,894 referrals of child abuse and neglect involving a total number of 2,747 children who were suspected of being abused or neglected.

The national theme for this year is “Make Meaningful Connection with Children and Families”.

We continue to promote the five protective factors aimed at protecting children from the risk of child abuse and neglect.  These five factors include:  Nurturing and Attachment; Knowledge of Parenting and of Child and Youth Development; Parental Resilience; Social Connections; and Concrete Supports for Parents.

This year, the Department of Public Health and Social Services would like to highlight the importance of partnering with parents and caregivers.  According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Families are central to a child’s safety and well-being and they need support.  Their desire to do the best they can for their families provides a foundation for working with them to explore strategies for caring effectively for their children.

The benefits of partnerships are that it:

-Focuses attention on the overall well-being of the child and family, rather on specific  “symptoms” of isolation.

-Results in more competent and relevant supports, as providers gain a greater understanding of families’ perspectives, homes and environments.

-Foster parent leadership skills, resulting in more confident parenting and an enhanced ability of mothers, fathers and other caregivers to advocate for their family’s needs.

 -Promotes lasting change, as parents build on existing skills and enhance natural support networks that will extend beyond the time frame of a provider’s involvement.

 Working in partnership with parents and caregivers means:

 -Understanding that all parents have strengths, and helping families build on their strengths and  recognize their personal power to ensure family success.

 -Viewing parents as the experts on their own children, supporting them with resources and sharing responsibility for outcomes.

 -Listening carefully to parents’ concerns and helping them identify solutions that will work for their family.

 -Including parents in the development, implementation and evaluation of processes and programs that are driven by parents’ needs and incorporate their ideas and suggestions.

 -Helping parents take responsibility and learn to advocate more effectively for themselves and their children.

 -Working to understand parents’ language and culture, and adjusting communication to reflect Differences.

Partnership between parents or caregivers and the various community providers is a valuable prevention tool which can ultimately reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect in our community.  This month and throughout the year, let’s focus on preventive measures to support parents and create healthier communities for children.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact Linda B. Rodriguez, Human Services Administrator, Bureau of Social Services Administration at 475-2653/2672.

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