A4: How Shifting Power to Communities Counteracts Child Abuse and Neglect

Area of Focus: Innovative Programs and Practices

In this session, we will share equitable solutions that shift power to communities and better support families. These strategies were identified through Child Safety Forward, a four-year federal demonstration initiative to develop multidisciplinary strategies and responses to address serious or near-death injuries as a result of child abuse or neglect and to reduce the number of child fatalities. The initiative is funded by the Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime. Social Current serves as the national technical assistance provider to sites in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan.

The public health approach to this work rebalances power, credits multiple types of data, and centers learning. The evaluation has identified three core conditions necessary to building a reimagined child and family well-being system:

  • Elevate families into relationships of equal power within systems
  • Build intentional strategy to systematically assess and address racism
  • Sustain a proactive communications strategy

Although the U.S. child mortality rate has improved over time, the number of child deaths due to abuse and neglect has remained steady or even increased. Like other causes of childhood illness and death, child maltreatment can be prevented. This message was delivered in a report from the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, titled Within Our Reach. The report provided a blueprint for a public health approach that addresses the root causes of child maltreatment, engages with multiple stakeholders, and is a shared responsibility between families and communities. Based on this vision, the initiative strives to build a child and family well-being system where child protection agencies, community partners, neighbors, and families share a responsibility to ensure children thrive.

This workshop will take the very difficult problem of child abuse prevention and break it down into concrete, community-based strategies. We will engage participants in a conversation about equitable solutions to child safety and family well-being. We will also ask participants to share assets in their own communities, systems, and organizations that contribute to a transformed child and family well-being system.

Learning Objectives

  • Concrete equitable solutions to child safety and family well-being
  • Reflect on assets in own communities, systems, and organizations that can contribute to a transformed child and family well-being system
  • New communications strategies for describing childhood adversity as a public, preventable, and solvable issue


Jasmine Brosnan
Evaluation Senior Project Manager
Sacramento Child Abuse Prevention Center

Nicole DeWitt-Blumhardt
Project Specialist
Michigan Public Health Institute

Amy Templeman
Senior Director of Child & Family Well-Being
Social Current

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