April is Child Abuse Prevention month and Healthy Kids has planted pinwheel gardens all over Lincoln County to remind people how important our children are! “Children are our greatest resource for the future of the Lincoln County communities and all community members can help make a difference,” says Healthy Kids Executive Director Leslie Livingston.
In 2020, there were 92 substantiated cases of child abuse/neglect in Lincoln County as reported by the Maine State Office of Child and Family Services. “Parenting is a difficult job and all adults providing care for our kids need support,” Livingston says.
The US Department of Health and Human Services promotes the following protective factors as one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of child abuse and neglect:
- Nurturing and attachment…development of a positive relationship between parents and kids
- Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development…helping caregivers to understand the different stages of development and best parenting for each stage
- Parental resilience…being able to bounce back when things are hard
- Social connections…having people to talk to for both parents and kids
- Concrete supports for parents…having help with basic needs to reduce stress
- Social and emotional competence of children…teaching kids how to effectively express their feelings
Healthy Kids programs offer support through personalized meetings tailored to a family’s situation, classes, playgroups, concrete supports such as cribs or toys at Christmas, and workshops for professionals and high school kids in health classes.
Additionally, Healthy Kids provides free community dinner/game nights at schools and information/activities live weekly on Facebook, and sends out bi-weekly parenting tips to over 700 families. A new community program called the Front Porch Project, allows community members to explore the ways they can be helpful in supporting families.