RALEIGH, N.C. — Each year, roughly 111,000 instances of child abuse and neglect are reported in North Carolina, with the total, because of underreporting, likely seven times that number.
Preventing the maltreatment of children in all forms is the goal of Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina, which this year celebrated its 30th anniversary.
In the past 18 months, Prevent Child Abuse has served nearly 5,000 families, compared to about 1,000 a year before that.
The difference reflects a board decision to expand the group’s focus from providing information and training for agencies that serve families, and instead concentrating on providing technical advice for “evidence-based” programs that offer education and support for parents through 88 community-based organizations, says Rosie Allen, who joined the agency in February 2008 as president and CEO.
“We have identified these programs as proven to work,” says Allen, who formerly served as director of development for the North Carolina Partnership for Children and before that was executive director for several grassroots nonprofits. “We are truly in this work to ensure that we get good outcomes.”
Prevent Child Abuse is a member of a statewide coalition known as the Alliance for Evidence-Based Family Strengthening Program that consists of public and private funders that invest in local grassroots groups.
The Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, a member, advises the Alliance about programs that work, based on evidence and research, while Prevent Child Abuse provides technical support for programs the Alliance funds.
“We provide the ‘scaffolding,’ or direct support to these programs, so they are implemented to fidelity and produce the results,” Allen says.
Those programs serve roughly 5,000 families throughout North Carolina.
The Nurse-Family Partnership, for example, a statewide effort that is part of a national program, is receiving $500,000 a year from Alliance partners and other funders for five years.
Working at eight sites that together serve a total of 10 counties, the initiative pairs nurses with 100 low-income, first-time expectant mothers at each site.
Since the program was launched about a year ago, participating mothers have had 800 babies.
Overall, programs that are part of the national Nurse-Family Partnership have seen a 48 percent reduction in child abuse and neglect, a 67 percent reduction in behavioral and intellectual problems for six-year-olds, and a 56 percent reduction in emergency-room visits and accidents for participating mothers and children.
Prevent Child Abuse also operates a “prevention network,” providing support for over roughly 3,000 professionals at 200 groups.
Operating with an annual budget of $1.4 million and 15 employees, up from 10 employees 18 months ago, Prevent Child Abuse is close to raising the $100,000 it needs to secure a challenge grant for $50,000 in unrestricted funds from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation.
Members of the Prevent Child Abuse board have helped raise most of that money by hosting parties and introducing the agency to their friends and communities.
“We are really able to show investors,” Allen says, “that their contribution makes a difference.”