The future prosperity of any community depends on its ability to foster the health and well-being of the next generation. When a community invests wisely in children and families, the next generation will pay that back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. Yet, when not all children have equal opportunity for healthy growth and development – due to experiences of child abuse and neglect – we put our future at risk.
Child welfare professionals are working at full capacity to protect our nation’s children, but it’s clear that the problem is too great and too important to be delegated entirely to these valiant workers. American Humane Association believes that each member of a community can – and should – become more aware of and involved in helping protect children and support families to prevent abuse and neglect before it occurs. That is why in 1997, American Humane Association created an innovative initiative called the Front Porch Project®.
The Front Porch Project is a national, research-supported, community-based initiative built upon the belief that all people who are concerned about the safety and well-being of children in their communities need to be encouraged and taught to make a difference. This concept is much the same as a good neighbor sitting on the “front porch” who, in years past, would have been aware of and involved in solving problems affecting families they knew. American front porches were more than convenient sitting places; they served as networking centers where concerned friends could share information and devise support systems to help each other through difficult times.
Our problems today obviously stem from far more complex issues than the architectural decline of front porches, yet there is great benefit in recapturing that sense of responsibility for the welfare of children that many of us have relinquished. The Front Porch Project advocates for becoming involved in each other's lives, recognizing the power of one person in making a significant difference in the life of a child, and applying strategies for intervening when necessary to help protect children and assist families.
Using a capacity-building approach involving training, technical assistance, and evaluation, American Humane Association helps local organizations implement and sustain the Front Porch Project in their communities. The Front Porch Project is a standout national prevention initiative because of its unique focus on educating and empowering concerned citizens on the role they can have in protecting children and supporting families. Evaluation results have shown that 95% of participants who participated in the Front Porch Project Community Training, the heart and soul of this initiative, agreed that they feel more comfortable intervening with struggling parents or families and are more likely to intervene than before the training. Empowering everyone to intervene early, the Front Porch Project helps ensure that all children in our communities will grow up with the health development they need to become stable, contributing adults.