April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each April, we spotlight the impact of child maltreatment on children, families and communities. This year’s theme is “Thriving Children and Families: Prevention with Purpose.”
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, many families continue to experience isolation and stress from income loss and in-person school interruptions. With COVID-19 having such a significant impact during the past year, prevention and community have become even more critical.
The month of April provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of child maltreatment and the importance of prevention and community involvement. The national rounded number of children who received a child protective services (CPS) investigation response or alternative response decreased from 3,534,000 for federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018 to 3,476,000 for FFY 2019. While there was a decrease in overall CPS interventions, the number of child fatalities was on the rise. For FFY 2019, a national estimate of 1,840 children died from abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.50 per 100,000 children in the population. The 2019 national estimate is an increase from the FFY 2018 national estimate of 1,780 children who died from child maltreatment.1 Poverty issues continue to be dominant factors related to the interactions between families and public child welfare agencies and often can be the issue that initiates children entering the foster care system.
We encourage all individuals and organizations to play a role in making their communities a better place for children and families. This requires supporting families, organizations, and communities to develop more prevention programs and implement evidence-based practices that address issues on the front end – before families fall into crisis and before child maltreatment even occurs.
For additional information about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, please visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway’s website. There are also local and State child abuse prevention organizations that can provide additional resources.
Jeff Lukich is the Child Welfare Strategy and Practice Lead at DLH Corporation. Previously, he served nearly 30 years with the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. Jeff retired as the Division’s Chief of Staff in 2018.