In North Carolina, we take our role as stewards of the next generation seriously and know that our ability to raise healthy children who will lead tomorrow’s communities requires smart and innovative thinking and investments today. The developmental science is clear about what children need to thrive. We’ve learned that severe or repeated exposure to harmful experiences, such as child abuse and neglect, without the support of caring adults can cause toxic stress responses in children, which can weaken the brain’s architecture, leaving children vulnerable to a range of health, learning and behavior problems across their lifespan. Fortunately, research also suggests that there are things we can do to buffer toxic stress, preventing, or reversing its effects. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments serve as protective factors. They are essential for the health and well-being of our children.
The purpose of this project is to design strategies which focus on the outer layers of the socio-ecological framework, as well as implement evidence-based child abuse prevention strategies which reduces risk factors and/or increases protective factors for child abuse and neglect. This will be accomplished by leveraging cross systems partnerships and resources to improve coordination and implementation of the updated recommendations of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Task Force on Essentials for Childhood.
Under the leadership of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health, implementation of the project will be carried out in collaboration with both traditional and non-traditional stakeholders and aligned with several Department and stakeholder priorities. Project activities are organized by the following grant strategies:
1. Enhance State Action Plan to Support Implementation and Sustainability of Comprehensive Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Strategies and Approaches
2. Leverage Cross-Sector Partnerships and Resources for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention
3. Implement Complementary CAN Prevention Approaches
a. Strengthening household financial security
b. Increasing family-friendly work policies
c. Implement a public engagement and education campaign to change social norms to support parents and positive parenting.
4. Develop and Implement Process and Outcome Evaluations
Taken together, the recommendations of the Task Force on Essentials for Childhood, if implemented, will ensure North Carolina has a comprehensive, coordinated system to support child and family well-being to prevent child abuse and neglect. As a result, there will be increased awareness of and action taken to address the socio-ecological factors that lead to safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. This project seeks to address the existing needs and gaps and build on previous successful efforts in North Carolina.