The Southwest Regional Prevention Plan communicates the Regional Council’s prevention strategies and funding requests for preventing child abuse and neglect in Southwest Ohio.
The plan also summarizes the factors affecting child abuse and neglect in Southwest Ohio and the most pressing needs for families, which were identified during the needs assessment process.
The plan identified that Southwest Ohio has more concern than other parts of the state for certain risk factors associated with child abuse and neglect, particularly stress related to poverty, substance abuse, and chronic health issues.
Southwest Ohio Risk Factors
Some particular risk factors identified in Southwest Ohio include:
- High number of people who experienced some form of trauma as children, such as poverty, family violence, sexual abuse, or living with someone who abused drugs or alcohol
- 1 in 5 parents or caregivers have misguided beliefs about child behavior or parenting, such as believing a child misbehaves just to upset them
- Organizations are providing inconsistent care to children, particularly children with special needs
Southwest Ohio Needs
Based on these risk factors, the region identified these needs:
Messaging and Awareness Campaigns
- Consistent messaging about child abuse and neglect
- Promotion of protective factors and the role each person can play to support families and prevent child abuse and neglect
- Common data to convey messages about trends in child well-being
Community and Parent Education
- Community education about what keeps kids safe
- Parenting education in general and parenting education that addresses target populations, as well as supports and education for adoptive parents/kinship care providers
- Parent/caregiver coping-skills training
- Training refreshers or booklets for sentinels on how to recognize and refer parents who are struggling, prior to child abuse and neglect occurring
- Consistent and high-quality policies and practices in institutions and family-serving agencies
Early Childhood Education
- Changing how service providers interact with families to support them in building protective factors
Building up Child Protective Factors
- Professionals in schools, Head Start, and early childhood development organizations need help and consultation in managing challenging child behaviors
- Empowerment of children with special needs and behavioral challenges in self-regulating behaviors, and using words and language skills to communicate needs and emotions effectively
Prevention Strategies for Southwest Ohio
The Southwest Ohio Regional Prevention Plan identifies three main strategies for funding.
Universal Awareness Campaigns
The region contracted with an advertising agency to develop a campaign targeted at the general population to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect prevention. The goal is to increase awareness across the region, with an aim to meaningfully market to 10 percent of the population, or about 180,000 people.
The awareness campaign:
- Promotes protective factors and the role each person can play to support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
- Promotes how to recognize and refer parents who are struggling, prior to child abuse and neglect occurring.
- Spreads awareness about child abuse and neglect first, then provides consistent messaging about child abuse and neglect.
Prevention Services for Parents and Kinship Caregivers
The region provides prevention services to the relatives who are caring for children, also known as kinship caregivers. There is an increasing number of children in kinship care due to drug abuse, teen pregnancy, incarceration, illness, and other factors.
Kinship caregivers often experience inadequate support, social stigma, isolation, and financial strain. Providing training and support to help caregivers make social connections, be aware of available support, and become more resilient can help prevent child abuse and neglect.
Through 2019, the region is also providing programs that help all parents and caregivers to have nurturing and positive relationships with children and to help parents learn to cope with parenting stress.
The region provides training for professionals in early childhood development organizations so that they can support parents’ and caregivers’ ability to parent effectively. Professionals learn how to use the Strengthening Families Protective Factors Framework in their everyday work with families.
Another part of the plan identifies a goal to engage parents as partners and advocates on the Southwest Ohio Regional Prevention Council. As part of this strategy, the region:
- Provides leadership training and support for parents who participate in the Regional Prevention Council
- Works with parents and caregivers to design systems and services that work for families
- Designates specific resources for parent engagement, participation, and leadership to benefit all the parent/caregiver programs that will be delivered as part of the prevention plan
At least one parent serves on the Regional Prevention Council and at least 20 kinship caregivers will be part of focus groups to inform council decision-making on an annual basis.