The Children’s Trust Fund Alliance held a Congressional Briefing on Thursday, November 14, 2019, titled “Moving Upstream: What works to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.”

The panel featured LaCrisha Rose from the Alliance National Parent Partnership Council and West Virginia Circle of Parents Network, Dr. Melissa Merrick from Prevent Child Abuse America, Sallye R. Longshore from Alabama Children’s Trust Fund and Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, and Natalie Towns from Georgia’s Children’s Trust Fund and Georgia Division of Family & Children Services. Moderating the panel was Teresa Rafael from the Children’s Trust Fund Alliance.

The Children’s Trust Fund Alliance, formerly known as the National Alliance of Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds, ensures that states have support for all aspects of the work of state children’s trust and prevention funds. LaCrisha Rose, a West Virginia parent, shared her story raising her first child. She utilized community-based programs that she says kept her child from being removed from her home. LaCrisha noted that “the only difference between that parent and me was prevention.” She says that her home-visitor gave her tools that have helped to build her family stronger.

Dr. Melissa Merrick, a clinical child psychologist, says that prevention is our only option when we look at the science. She says that science shows us how early experience affects the architecture of the maturing brain. Merrick says that we must embrace a comprehensive prevention frame and assure all children conditions where they can thrive. Healthier children equal efficiencies across all systems, from child welfare to juvenile justice to healthcare.

Sallye Longshore shared that her state of Alabama did a “Cost of Child Maltreatment” Study. The study concluded that the cost of child abuse and neglect in Alabama is 2.3 Billion dollars per year. That is 175,344 dollars per child per year. Longshore also spoke about Alabama’s efforts to educate fathers by partnering with the Department of Human Resources to create their fatherhood programs. These programs engage fathers as well as teaching them using the five protective factors. Longshore says we must raise awareness across the country that it is critical to invest in children’s futures and suggests that “we can pay now, or we can pay later.”

Natalie Towns stresses the importance of Partnership, Policy, and Involving Parents. Connecting families to needed resources through family-based centers and equipping those centers with best practices is critical. Georgia also created a Parent Advisory Council, which has shown the power of authentic parent partnership.

The National Child Abuse Coalition member organization, the Committee for Children, created an action alert for the Utah networks to urge Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to support the House CAPTA funding levels. To take action, click here.