Consider the new example of the Hood River County community’s coordinated efforts to respond to the needs of at-risk families.
As explained on page A5, the Hood River County Commission on Children and Families recently received a child abuse and neglect prevention grant from the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon; Hood River and Springfield are the only two communities to receive the grants.
What are needed now are local people to serve on the grant board. The HRCCCF is turning to other agencies and providers for this, but there is also room in this vehicle for other drivers — people from the community.
The “Keeping Families Together” grant appears to be an opportunity to further coalesce resources to deal with an issue that affects every community.
Teachers and others who work with children can offer chilling examples of youngsters they come into contact with who are suffering from neglect or abuse. It is not something to turn away from, but to confront proactively, as the Keeping Families Together” grant proposes to do.
In this space we recently extolled the value of serving as a mentor; not everyone has the time, talents or inclination to spend time with a young person. Serving on a grant board such as this one could be the perfect opportunity to serve.
(The grant can also defray some costs for potential board members, such as child care or transportation.)
Between HRCCC, Next Door Inc. and other local agencies, numerous programs of education and outreach are available in the community to support families in at-risk.
Building on existing programs and partnerships is one reason Hood River was chosen for the grant.
As coordinator Terri Vann noted, “We were chosen because we have a history of agencies working together and the Children’s Trust Fund of Oregon wanted to use a community that has agencies on board.”
One important facet of the grant is that it will tackle the problem of under-reporting (read: non-reporting). Abuse and neglect are among the most private and hyper-sensitive of matters facing a family. The dynamics of abuse and neglect are painful and personal, but ultimately this harmful behavior affects the community as a whole.
It puts a strain on schools and social services, increases medical and mental health costs and contributes to lost productivity, among plenty of other factors. And we should not fail to mention the simple matter of physical and psychological harm it causes to the abused and the abuser.
“Bottom line: Any child who is abused is one too many; so we are anxious to have the opportunity to continue to grow our community programs,” Vann said.
Working as a community to address, comprehensively, the root causes of abuse and neglect is the heart and soul of the pending grant. Now there is the potential for active local involvement in carrying it out on behalf of the community.