Here in Arizona, I think of April as a time to take stock of what has been accomplished and how we can do more for kids in the year ahead.
Here’s a short list of recent milestones for Arizona children; some better, some worse, since last April: First, the far from good news:
- Arizona has seen a 20 percent increase in reports to CPS, and a similar increase in children removed from their parents, with fewer foster families willing to care for them
- Of those children removed from their parents because of maltreatment, infants under one year of age are the largest single age group. Of all children in foster care in Arizona as of September 2011, over 41 percent had not reached their fifth birthday.
- Seventy children died from maltreatment in Arizona in 2010. Of those, 53 percent were under the age of one year. Local teams determined that 93 percent of those deaths could have been prevented.
- Although the governor convened the Child Safety Task Force and recommendations were produced, few human or fiscal resources have been allocated to implement the strategies for improving our response to criminal allegations of child maltreatment.
Absent from the report were recommendations for preventing child abuse and neglect.
Some good things for Arizona’s children:
- Healthy Families along with other home visiting programs are receiving $34 million over four years from federal Maternal Child Health Bureau. This will significantly increase the number of new at-risk young parents reach by the most effective prevention strategy in our state. Healthy Families has a 20-year track record in Arizona for preventing child abuse and helping parents reach goals in education and employment.
- Arizona birthing hospitals provided the Never Shake a Baby education to more than 35,000 new parents before they went home with their newborns, some of whom will likely cry a lot this year, but are less likely to be shaken.
- Twelve of Arizona’s 15 county juvenile courts brought community providers together to improve outcomes for infants and toddlers in foster care. Best for Babies was implemented in Maricopa County a year ago, where over half of young children in foster care statewide are living. Arizona made national history with the establishment of three Baby Courts to assure these young children benefit from increased judicial oversight and more timely forever families.
Although April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, our children need and deserve your help every day of the year. Please get involved in one of the many ways you can help to prevent child abuse today and every day!