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Healthy Families America

Healthy Families America (HFA) is a nationally recognized, evidence-based home visiting model designed to work with overburdened families who are at-risk for adverse childhood experiences, including child maltreatment. Launched in 1992, HFA was developed as a direct response to the US Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect report, issued in 1991, calling for immediate and urgent attention directed at the “national emergency” of child abuse in the United States. A second report concentrated its recommendations on the federal government’s role and strongly emphasized the importance of making prevention a key strategy by implementing voluntary neonatal home visitation programs. Since 1992, HFA sites have served hundreds of thousands of families, and on average sites serve more than 75,000 families annually in 40 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and Canada.

In February 2011, the United States Department of Health and Human Services named HFA as a proven home visiting model after a thorough and transparent review of the home visiting research literature that looked at more than 250 home visiting models. The HFA model’s effectiveness was based fifty (50) studies illustrating its effectiveness in eight (8) areas: Child Development and School Readiness; Child Health; Family Economic Self-Sufficiency; Linkages and Referrals; Maternal Health; Positive Parenting Practices; Reductions in Child Maltreatment; and, Reductions in Juvenile Delinquency, Family Violence, and Crime. HFA is a home visiting model equipped to work with parents who may have histories of trauma, and who may experience intimate partner violence, mental health and/or substance abuse issues. The HFA model is theoretically rooted in the belief that early, nurturing relationships are the foundation for life-long, healthy development. Well trained home visitors provide services in family’s homes providing them an opportunity to experience the family’s living environment, to develop first-hand knowledge of the strengths and stressors of the home environment, to implement home safety assessments with the family, and to engage the family on “their turf”. Services are initiated prenatally or right after the birth of a baby and are offered voluntarily, intensively and over the long-term, for a minimum of 3 years after the birth of the baby and in many cases up to the child’s fifth birthday.

The HFA National Office is responsible for ensuring the model is implemented with quality and fidelity by making certain sites and staff is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to implement the model and to help mitigate the impact of serious stressors in the lives of families being served. For more than twenty years, the HFA national office has focused on both expanding and sustaining HFA by assisting states in building their own infrastructures for advocacy, funding, training, quality assurance and evaluation. Furthermore, the HFA model is built upon a set of 12 research-based critical elements that provide a benchmark in which quality is measured, and requires its sites to successfully complete a comprehensive and rigorous accreditation process linked to best practice standards. All of these services ensure HFA families receive quality services with proven results.

HFA programs currently serve an estimated 75,000 families annually. Forty five percent of families are Caucasian, 27% Latino, and 22% African American. Families of Native American, Asian/Pacific Islander, and other origins make up 6% of participants. The majority of sites (75%) now serve families with more than one child, versus focusing solely on first-time parents like many other models do. These families tend to be single (69%), low income (72%) and 29 or younger (81%) with 63% under the age of 25.

HFA Vision:
All children receive nurturing care from their family essential to leading a healthy and productive life.

Mission:
To promote child well-being and prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children through home visiting services.

Core Values:
Valuing Children
Strengthening Families
Engaging Communities

HFA Program Goals:

  • Build and sustain community partnerships to systematically engage overburdened families in home visiting services prenatally or at birth.
  • Cultivate and strengthen nurturing parent-child relationships.
  • Promote healthy childhood growth and development.
  • Enhance family functioning by reducing risk and building protective factors.



www.healthyfamiliesamerica.org

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IL First Lady Diana Rauner and Ald. Mary O'Connor team with Prevent Child Abuse America to Mark April as Child Abuse Prevention Month


IL First Lady Diana Rauner and Ald. Mary O'Connor team with Prevent Child Abuse America to Mark April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

First Lady Rauner, 41st Ward Alderman Mary O’Connor, Prevent Child Abuse America and its Illinois chapter will open Child Abuse Prevention Month with “Pinwheel Garden” at two Northwest side schools

CHICAGO, IL, MARCH 27, 2015 – Illinois First Lady Diana Rauner and 41st Ward Alderman Mary O’Connor are teaming with Prevent Child Abuse America and its Illinois chapter on Tuesday, April 1, at the Wildwood and St. Mary of the Woods Elementary Schools to call the city, state and nation to act in support of providing great childhoods for all children because our children are our future.

The Chicago “Big Pinwheel Garden” kicks-off a month-long series of events for Prevent Child Abuse America and its 50 state chapters nationwide to mark April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.  At the center of these activities will be the pinwheel, the national symbol for child abuse prevention, first unveiled by Prevent Child Abuse America through its national Pinwheels for Prevention® campaign in April 2008. In fact, with these events on April 1st, Prevent Child Abuse America and its chapters will be unveiling a new organizational logo featuring the pinwheel. 

Additional Chicago area efforts to look for in April will include:

- Pinwheel gardens on display at many of the other 21 schools in the 41st ward
- Pinwheel gardens at 2 N. Riverside Plaza, Illinois Center and 600 W. Chicago where passers-by can take pinwheels and submit photos or videos with them using the hashtag #greatchildhoods
- The message “#Great Childhoods!” in window lights on the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois building at 300 E. Randolph from April 10 to 12

“The importance of investing in early child development and preventing child maltreatment cannot be underestimated,” said Diana Rauner, the First Lady of Illinois and the president of the Ounce of Prevention Fund. “I’m joining Prevent Child Abuse America and its Illinois chapter today to pledge continued support for emphasizing the importance of healthy starts for all children, and I encourage everyone in the city and state to pledge the same this April.”

Because of the correlation between parental stress and isolation and child maltreatment, Prevent Child Abuse America advocates simple, everyday actions that help reduce stress and isolation and therefore reduce child maltreatment. Some activities that people can do during Child Abuse Prevention Month include:

- Offer to babysit or cook for a friend or relative who is feeling the stress of work and child rearing  so that the parent can have the chance to rest and recharge
- Volunteer at pre- and after-school programs so that kids have a nurturing and  educational environment where parents can safely leave their children while at work
- Donate to programs that provide services to children and families
- Learn more about programs such as home visiting, which enhance early child development, and advocate for their availability in your neighborhood.

"Simple actions can make a difference, and I am proud to be joining First Lady Rauner and Prevent Child Abuse America in doing what I can to make a difference during April," said Alderman O'Connor. "Let's all work together to play a role in the prevention of abuse and neglect and working to make great childhoods a reality for all children in Chicago and nationwide."

“As we continue our work to make an impact on the lives of children and families, we hope that others grow to recognize and celebrate the pinwheel in the same way that we do today,” said Jim Hmurovich, President and & CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “At the same time, it is important to remember, while the pinwheel symbolizes the great childhoods we want for all children, it cannot move by itself.  We need people to be the force that moves the pinwheel to bring about real change for children in the United States.”

Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in 1972 in Chicago, works to ensure great childhoods for all children because our children are our future. The organization promotes that vision through a network of chapters in 50 states and more than 625 Healthy Families America home visitation sites in 39 states, the U.S. Territories, Puerto Rico and Canada, serving over 85,000 families annually. A major organizational focus is to advocate for the existence of a national policy framework and strategy for children and families while promoting evidence-based practices that prevent abuse and neglect from ever occurring. To learn more about what we’re doing to prevent child abuse and neglect and how you can help, please visit our websites at www.preventchildabuse.org or www.healthyfamiliesamerica.org. 

 

 

Child Advocates Descend on DC in Defense of Home Visiting and Abuse Prevention

 

Child Advocates Descend on DC in Defense of Home Visiting and Abuse Prevention

Representatives from Prevent Child Abuse America’s 50 state network are in Washington to advocate for two laws that are critical to the healthy development of children and families.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocates from every state in the Prevent Child Abuse America 50 state chapter network are in the nation’s capital today, advocating for key pieces of legislation that are proven to improve the lives of children and families nationwide.

Prevent Child Abuse Executive Directors and advocates from around the nation are calling for the reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program and for the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) to be fully funded.

MIECHV supports evidence-based home visiting initiatives that provide the support, experience and knowledge critical to success during pregnancy and through the first few years of a child’s life. Among the programs supported by MIECHV is Healthy Families America (HFA), Prevent Child Abuse America’s signature prevention program, that provides more than 86,000 families annually with services that are proven to increase the knowledge and skill of parents, improve the early learning abilities of children, reduce incidences of child maltreatment, and improve overall family self-sufficiency.

Currently, MIECHV is set to expire at the end of March. If Congress fails to reauthorize MIECHV, tens of thousands of families across the country would lose access to home visiting services like HFA, and thousands of family support workers would find their jobs in jeopardy.

CAPTA is a historic law that dates to 1974 and is one of the major ways that the federal government funds state programs that prevent and reduce child abuse and neglect. In fiscal year 2015, CAPTA state grants were funded at a level of $26 million, a number so low that resulted in some states receiving less than $100,000 to cover the costs associated with child protection, reporting, and investigation of claims.

Calling this level of funding “beyond inadequate,” advocates from Prevent Child Abuse America are requesting that Congress fund CAPTA state grants at a minimum level of $30 million.

“MIECHV and CAPTA are two of the major ways that the federal government help ensure that families and children have access to the programs and services that help them thrive,” said James M. Hmurovich, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America. “These programs desperately need to be reauthorized and fully funded so that we can not only reduce incidences of child abuse and neglect, but move our country closer to the ideal in which no child is ever abused or neglected and every family is equipped to give their children the best lives possible.”

The Head of the River

 

The Head of the River

CHICAGO, IL, February 12, 2015 There's a public health tale about two people walking-up to a river and seeing children floating by. One person says we need to pull these children out of the water, and the other says yes we do, but what we really need to do is go to the head of the river and figure out why they're falling in to begin with.

We were reminded of this tale as we read “Shame on U.S.- Failings by All Three Branches of Our Federal Government Leave Abused and Neglected Children Vulnerable to Further Harm,” the recent report from the Children's Advocacy Institute.

This report is speaking truth to power, and eloquently points out what's wrong with the child welfare system at every level.The report also points to what can be done to improve the situation as we seek to ensure great childhoods and equal opportunities for the healthy development of all children:

- We can invest in real, evidence-based prevention such as home visiting, and programs like Healthy Families America, to keep kids out of the system on the first place.

- We can put child well-being front and center on the national policy agenda.

- We can develop and enforce certain maltreatment standards among all states, and the report calls for some of that, particularly in defining maltreatment.

- We can go to the head of the river, but we must also acknowledge, that the report is dangerously silent on primary prevention.

 

You could argue that this is not the intended topic of the report, that the report is intended as a call to action to the public agencies who serve children and families. But prevention is our mission at Prevent Child Abuse America, we want to prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever occurs, and the responsibility for doing so goes well beyond public agencies alone.

 

The report also points out the inconsistencies in accounting for the children known to the child welfare systems; a topic we write about every year when the annual federal report on Child Maltreatment is released. The lack of uniform definitions is important, because it prohibits

 

maltreatment trend analysis even in the same state and does not allow for a true assessment of the issue nationally. It also places the ordinary citizen in a state of confusion because of inconsistent understanding as to whether maltreatment is increasing or decreasing.

 

We advocate for the development of a comprehensive measure of how well public agencies promote child well-being; a definition and accompanying benchmarks that go beyond child protective services that serves kids whose well-being already has been compromised. Public health, education, law enforcement, public welfare and each of us all have a role to play in overall child well-being, not just child protective services.

 

Our 2012 study on the economic impact of child abuse and neglect shows that the U.S. spends $80 billion each year on services focused on everything from mental health to juvenile justice; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reports that each victim of child abuse will cost the nation approximately $210,000 over the course of their lifetime. Prevention is the right thing to do and it offers a strong return on the investment

 

It's time we go to the head of the river, and we hope you will join us by:

 

·         Learning more about how we can prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever occurs.

·         Volunteering at local child and family-serving agencies, such as those in our chapter network.

·         Advocating for expanded prevention strategies such as home visiting in the communities and states where you live.  

 

If you don’t know how to take these actions, please let us know, we’ll be happy to help you figure it out.

 

"Improving the  Child Protective Services system, as this report so eloquently describes, is critical and analogous to building new hospitals to fight a disease," said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. “We must garner the public and political will to allocate the funds it will cost to reduce the likelihood of a child needing to go to a hospital or into the child protective services system. We have the evidence-based strategies to do that, all we have to do now is demand the resources to bring them to scale.”

 

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