Oklahoma State Department of Health Implements American Humane Association’s The Front Porch Project to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect

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Working with the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Family Support and Prevention Service division, six communities across the state -- Ardmore, Lawton, McAlester, Oklahoma City, Shawnee and Stillwater -- will now begin implementing The Front Porch Project, the American Humane Association’s community-based initiative to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Over four days in January and February, American Humane trained 23 professionals and community members from these six communities on how to locally deliver The Front Porch Project’s community training. As the cornerstone of The Front Porch Project, the community training equips community members with the knowledge, tools and action steps necessary to intervene appropriately to help protect the safety and well-being of children and to help and support parents and families to do the same. With the support and oversight of the Family Support and Prevention Service division, these new trainers will use the information and techniques they learned to deliver the community training to members of their local communities.

The underlying premise of The Front Porch Project is that everyone has a role in keeping children safe from abuse and neglect while, at the same time, supporting and strengthening families in their communities.

“The most frequent question I am asked as the director of a child abuse prevention agency is, ‘What can just one person do?’” said Sherie Trice, CBCAP Grant Coordinator, Family Support and Prevention Service Oklahoma State Department of Health. “The Front Porch Project is the answer to that question. The Front Porch Project helps us figure out how to help in safe, appropriate and meaningful ways for children in our 'corner of the world.' It's not about having the one right answer; it's about being proactive, helpful and practical.”

Each community in the U.S. has a public child welfare system that is mandated to ensure the safety, family stability and well-being of its children, including responding to allegations of child abuse and neglect. However, since 1976, America has seen a more than threefold increase in the number of children who are abused or neglected by caretakers. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, Child Maltreatment 2007, approximately 794,000 children were victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect in the U.S. in 2007 (the most recent data available). This data indicates that the responsibility of protecting children is too great and too important to be delegated only to public child welfare agencies. Concerned individuals, families and communities must become involved and take on the civic and personal responsibility in protecting children and supporting families in their own neighborhoods, particularly before abuse or neglect ever occurs.

Research conducted by Prevent Child Abuse America shows that a majority of Americans -- more than half of the general public and two-thirds of all parents -- are willing to become involved in helping prevent child abuse and neglect. But, they also feel they lack the knowledge and skills to intervene safely and effectively. That’s what The Front Porch Project is all about -- providing the information, skills and practice that help community members grow their relationships with one another, building stronger communities, contributing to the healthy development of children and keeping their children safe.

For more information about American Humane’s The Front Porch Project, visit www.americanhumane.org/frontporch.

About American Humane Association

Since 1877, the historic American Humane Association has been at the forefront of every major advancement in protecting children, pets and farm animals from cruelty and abuse and neglect. Today we’re also leading the way in understanding human-animal interaction and its role in society. As the nation’s voice for the protection of children and animals, American Humane Association reaches millions of people every day through groundbreaking research, education, training and services that span a wide network of organizations, agencies and businesses. You can help make a difference, too. Visit American Humane Association at www.americanhumane.org today.

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