All children benefit from strong families and safe communities where their needs are met. Most children are growing up with these supports. Unfortunately, many are not. Over a million children in America experience child maltreatment each year – Alaska has amongst the highest per capita rates of child abuse and neglect in the country. In 2010, Office of Children Services substantiated 4,655 cases of child abuse and neglect.
Some communities face challenges in providing an environment that promotes positive outcomes for their children. When children’s needs are neglected, their growth and development can be affected, with life-long costs to them and to all of us. The mission of the Alaska Children’s Trust is to improve the status of children in Alaska by generating funds and committing resources to eliminate child abuse and neglect.
Research shows that the societal impacts of child maltreat are major:
- First, it impairs a child’s physical, social and intellectual development. This, in turn, increases the risk of poor performance in school, mental health problems, substance abuse, and problems with the law. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2004)
- Second, childhood trauma contributes to serious long-term health problems. Researchers have found compelling evidence that traumatic childhood experiences are surprisingly common, happen in all kinds of families, and have damaging consequences throughout a person’s lifetime. Adults who were abused or otherwise traumatized as children have much higher rates of chronic disease, disability and premature death. (Source: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, Centers for Disease Control, 1998)
- Finally, the financial toll of childhood trauma is staggering. Dealing with the immediate and long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect is estimated at $80 billion per year in the United States. (Source: Prevent Child Abuse America, 2012)
Strengthening Families is a proven, cost-effective approach to building Protective Factors around children by supporting family strengths and resiliency. In 2005, Alaska was one of seven state to be selected by the Center for the study of Social Policy to pilot this approach.
FIVE PROTECTIVE FACTORS
1) Parental resilience
2) Social connections
3) Knowledge of parenting and child development
4) Concrete support in times of need
5) Healthy social and emotional development.
For more information, go to www.strengtheningfamilies.alaska.gov or call 907-269-8923
Caring for children can be overwhelming. Call the Alaska Parent Line and talk with an early childhood development specialist who can provide individualized child development information, discipline suggestions, or other appropriate supports.
The Parent Line is a support line around parenting techniques and child development issues. We do not provide ongoing counseling; however we will provide referrals to other appropriate agencies if callers are in the midst of a crisis or need more comprehensive social service assistance.