April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year’s theme is “Thriving Children & Families: Prevention with Purpose.

The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) is a current grantee of Children’s Trust Fund of Alabama (CTF). It has partnered with the work of this agency for more than 20 years under its Prevention and Wellness directorate led by Dr. Stephanie Woods-Crawford. In observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month, April 1 is designated as National Wear Blue Day to show support for preventing child abuse and neglect.

MCHD’s Community Prevention Programs (CPP) support every effort in recognizing the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect. All the programs of CPP follows the mission of MCHD in promoting, improving, and protecting the health of Mobile County.

One program in particular, Family Support/Home Visitation, encourages positive child development through home visitation services and by promoting supportive parental and familial relationships. Positive education and empowerment are important keys in improving these relationships and eliminating child abuse and neglect.

MCHD’s Bureau of Community and Nutrition Services, overseen by Pebbles King, focuses on promoting health development throughout Mobile County. This is done in many ways such as:

  • utilizing evidenced based programs,
  • providing peer-education services on tobacco and drug overdose,
  • equipping parents with skills necessary to be a positive light in their children’s lives while being a productive citizen,
  • providing parent education and support for pregnant and parenting teens,
  • providing medical and social services surrounding issues related to fetal demise,
  • strengthening blood lead testing to improve data and strengthen population-based interventions,
  • utilizing best practices to improve maternal and infant health outcomes,
  • providing special supplemental program for Women, Infant and Children (WIC),
  • addressing health disparities and engage community health workers,
  • providing faith-based assistance that supports community health initiatives that provide tools to help our congregations,
  • and serving as county custodian for Alabama vital statistics events.

The current signature program for MCHD is the Fatherhood Initiative. Program Administrator Curtis Graves said, “Fathers, like mothers, are foundational to the emotional development and physical needs of their children. Simply put, we become what we are exposed to and what we think about. Funding from the Children’s Trust Fund allows MCHD’s Fatherhood program the opportunity to help fathers and mothers find the self- actualization they need to be the parent their child need.”

The Alabama Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Act was adopted by the Alabama Legislature in 1983 to address the state’s growing problem of child neglect and maltreatment. While several state agencies already existed to deal with distinct aspects of child abuse, none of these agencies specifically focused on solving the problem before it occurred.

It was clear that Alabama needed to create a state agency with its own board, funding, and staff to be dedicated solely to preventing child abuse. To address the problem at its origin, instead of merely addressing the symptoms of what could have been prevented, the Children’s Trust Fund was established. These dollars are intended to provide annual funding of community-based prevention programs throughout the state as well as create a self-sustaining pool to provide for funding these programs in the future.