‘Keeping Families Together’: Abuse prevention grant seeks local participants for community board

The Hood River County Commission on Children and Families recently received a child abuse and neglect prevention grant from the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon.

The grant, “Keeping Families Together,” is a research-based approach to preventing child abuse and neglect, according to Terri Vann, who will coordinate the grant for the commission. The intended result is a reduction in children facing abuse, according to Vann, adding that the grant can also help to reduce the number of children in foster care placements and to support vulnerable families and children.

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If you are interested in being involved in this community grant, contact the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families at 541-386-2500.

The goal of the initial trainings will be gaining knowledge about child abuse prevention and the creation of an action plan for the grant.

The grant uses a model called “Communities that Care,” which provides methods and interventions to identify and provide support for risk factors in their own community.

Long-lasting change in communities requires long-term commitment and investment supporting at-risk children and their families. Only two communities in Oregon were included in the initial project: Hood River and Springfield.

Hood River was chosen specifically as a pilot community because of the way it mobilizes to serve those in need.

“We were chosen because we have a history of agencies working together and the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon wanted to use a community that has agencies on board,” Vann said.

The Hood River project will branch out to Wasco County the second year of the grant.

The commission is seeking key stakeholders in the community to serve on the project’s community board.

The representatives need to come from any of the following groups: service providers, local government, law enforcement, education, the faith community, elders, the business community, media, recreation, health, mental health, social services, and parents and youth.

If necessary, the grant can also provide potential board members with support to defray expenses for child care, transportation or the expense of providing a substitute for a participant.

The grant requires a community assessment looking at Hood River’s current child abuse data as well as student survey results from the Oregon Healthy Teen Survey and the Student Wellness Survey. These are given regularly to local students.

Once the assessment is complete and the priority needs are identified, the members of the team will begin the process of identifying ways to directly address any gaps in our community services.

Hood River County has the lowest child abuse rate in the state as identified through the Department of Human Resources.

“We know that not all abuse gets reported and we do not know how many cases go unreported in our county,” Vann said. “As a result of the work, our hope is to educate groups that may not be aware of the reporting process or who is required to report. Additionally, there should not be a fear to report.”

Vann said everyone she has interviewed recognized there is a fear of reporting.

“Bottom line, any child who is abused is one too many so we are anxious to have the opportunity to continue to grow our community programs,” she said.

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