Imagine An America...
...where all children and youth are safe, healthy, and thriving. The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) believes that all children and youth have five interrelated needs that must be met if this dream is to become a reality. Every child and youth possesses these needs, whether they live at home with family members, in a juvenile detention facility, or on the streets. CWLA's Framework for Community Action describes children's five universal needs:
Together, communities can meet these needs for all of their children - but, not all at once, and not quickly. It will take a candid assessment of the current state of our children's well-being, a mutually-developed vision for their future, a thoughtful plan, and the resources, talents, energy, commitment, and hard work of lots of people to make the vision a reality.
- "The Basics": At the most fundamental level, children require proper nutrition, economic security, adequate shelter and clothing, education, and primary and preventive health and mental health care.
- Relationships: Close, nurturing relationships with parents, kin, and other caregivers allow and encourage children and young people to grow and thrive. Caring relationships with community members, including neighbors, coaches, teachers, and faith community leaders and members, strengthen social and relationship skills, improve self-mastery, and enhance self-esteem. Good relationships among children and youth themselves reinforce healthy behaviors and increase positive learning opportunities.
- Opportunities: Providing a childhood full of experiences and opportunities that motivate and equip children to succeed is the collective responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Children and youth need opportunities to develop their talents and skills, to contribute to their families and communities, and to make positive connections to their cultures, traditions, and spiritual resources. Children with early indications of physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities must be provided with early assessment and intervention, to prevent later, more serious problems that can unnecessarily limit their long-range potential.
- Safety: Keeping children safe from abuse and neglect by their caregivers, as well as from witnessing or being victimized by family, school, or community violence, makes it much less likely that they will become either victims or perpetrators of such violence in the future. By also protecting children from the harms of discrimination, media violence, internet victimization, environmental toxins, and accidental injury, we increase their likelihood for success.
- Healing: When we are unable to protect children, we must do all that we can to ease the impact of the harm they have suffered. Helping children and youth to heal involves ensuring their immediate and ongoing safety, supplying immediate and continuing emotional support, assessing the need for and providing medical, mental health, and other needed services, and, in some case, making amends through restorative justice practices.
Through its Framework for Community Action CWLA organizes its program, policy, advocacy, membership, training, and consultation resources to work in partnership with parents, communities, and professionals to ensure a bright future for every child. The Framework Monograph describes children' five universal needs, their importance, and the challenges and opportunities inherent in meeting them. The Framework Community Implementation Guide, available in June, will offer tools and resources that communities can use to support families and children.
We will work closely with you to make ALL children a national and a community priority.
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