CAN Collaborative Unveils Action Plan
In 2012, in Greene County alone, there were 5,795 children reported to the child abuse and neglect hotline, according to the MO Children’s Division Annual Report (CY 2012). Child abuse and neglect has also been flagged multiple times by the Community Focus Report. To address this critical issue, Community Partnership of the Ozarks formed the Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) Collaborative, which is made up of nearly two dozen organizations committed to preventing child abuse and neglect.
The CAN Collaborative is one of many collaborative initiatives of Community Partnership has coordinated over the years. It provides a comprehensive approach to abuse and neglect from birth to adulthood, and alsosupports the efforts of the Every Child Promise which provides a strategic focus to improve the lives of children from birth to age six.
In its first year, the CAN Collaborative has worked to identify the following six priorities:
- Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect
- Develop a state of the art child welfare system in Greene County, ensuring all children, families, and caseworkers will have the necessary resources and services
- All abused children will be reported into the system
- Child protection professionals called on to investigate and repair families damaged by abuse must be competent to perform these tasks
- Springfield and Greene County will have a quality understanding of child abuse and neglect and will know how to respond to the needs of the community. (This is a modified goal from the State Task Force on Preventing Child Sexual Abuse)
- All Faith Based Organizations in Greene County will be prepared to prevent and respond to child abuse and neglect
One of the above priorities is working with the faith-based community. In August 2013, a voluntary survey was sent to Ozarks area faith communities to identify current services and programs that may assist in preventing child abuse and neglect within, and outside of, religious congregations. 46 churches participated in the 26 questions survey. The following are some of the outcomes:
- 92.7% reported that they have a policy in place for responding to suspected abuse and neglect.
- 95% reported that they required background checks for any staff or volunteers working with children.
- Nearly 70% of congregations responded with an interest in support. The majority of the support was requested in the form of brochures and bulletin inserts, which will be provided by the CAN Collaborative. Less than 30% were interested in curriculum or training supports. Less than 20% were interested in sermon prompts.
- There was a mixture of denominations that responded: Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Independent, Methodist, Presbyterian, and Salvation Army denominations.
Another priority, already being addressed by the CAN Collaborative, is Priority #5, which was kick-started by the launch of the website www.howitends.org. “How It Ends” is designed to be an educational website for the community. It features three main areas: “For Parents”, “For Children”, and “For Professionals” each driven with resources for that particular group. The site also identifies signs of abuse and neglect, according to the Missouri Department of Social Services. The “How It Ends” campaign will be expanded in 2014 through a series of PSA’s and other efforts to educate the community.
The CAN Collaborative meets the third Thursday of each month at 9:00 AM and is chaired by former Greene County Prosecutor Darrell Moore. For more information on how to make a difference, visit www.howitends.org and click “Get Involved” on the homepage.