Monday, April 2
From the Pen of the President: April 2012
Child Abuse Prevention
April is National Child Abuse Prevention month, a time to recognize the roles that we as social workers play in promoting the social and emotional wellbeing of children and families in communities. As a social worker in the field of child welfare, I know how important our role is in protecting, assessing, and servicing children and families as well as how important the preservation of family connections are to children.
Nationally, many child welfare agencies are moving toward a protective model due to research findings on children and families. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, a full range of services and supports are needed in service provision in order to promote healthy social and emotional development and well-being of all children and families. It is important to strengthen and support children and families in order to keep crisis from occurring and to help ensure that children are safe.
In efforts to reduce the incidence of child maltreatment, the Center for the Study of Social Policy in conjunction with other agencies and programs spent two years investigating ways to protect children and keep them safe. They developed a strategy that involves working with children and families from the early stages in order to prevent incidents of abuse and neglect. The thought is that if we can strengthen families through education, social connections, and psychological support, we can make homes safer for children and maintain family connections. Six protective factors were developed:
- Enhancing Parental Resilience: Teaching parents how to be strong and flexible in order to deal with the stress of life.
- Develop Social Connections: Assisting parents in developing an informal network of trusted friends in their community so that they have a support system for meeting both practical and emotional needs
- Build Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development: It is important to educate parents on normal child development so that they have reasonable expectations for their children and develop alternative strategies for dealing with challenging behavior and avoiding harsh punishment.
- Offer Concrete Support in Times of Need: It is important to connect parents with services in the community to provide needed services.
- Foster Social and Emotional Competence of Children: It is important to assist parents with helping their children to communicate effectively. Parents need to be able to be supported by providers in learning how to detect signs of trouble that parents are not trained to see.
- Promote Healthy Parent-Child Relationships: When parents are in tune with their children, they can listen to them, understand them and perceive their needs. It is important to find programming that can provide parent-child activities.
These protective factors have become part of child welfare practices across the nation as agencies partner with various community programs and early childhood education programs to strengthen families while keeping children safe.
As I look back over my career in child welfare, I have found this field to be rewarding and a great opportunity to work with children and families while making a positive impact on communities. For students who are making decisions on careers in social work, consider child welfare, an area where you can impact children, families, and communities.
Yolanda Jordan, MSW, LCSW, has an extensive background in abuse/neglect issues in the field of child welfare. As a placement manager with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, she is responsible for managing supervisors who are responsible for children who are placed in the foster care system. Yolanda is also a practicing psychotherapist and has been in private practice for the past ten years. Services are provided to children, couples, and families with a special emphasis on relationship issues that African American women face.
Yolanda is a graduate of Western Illinois University where she received her bachelor of arts in mass communications and master of arts in public communications human relations with a minor in African American studies. Due to her extreme love for people and having the heart of a servant, she continued her education and received a masters in social work with an emphasis on child and family practice from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Jane Addams College of Social Work. Yolanda has been an active member of the NASW Illinois since 1996 and enjoys the work of advocating for the profession of social work and the community that social workers serve.