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April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month

Mar 23, 2017 11:00AM ● By Kendra Kaiserman

Building Hope

April 2017
Story by Kendra Kaiserman
Photo courtesy of Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council

For the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council, it’s about “creating healthy kids, healthy parents and healthy families as a whole,” says Ramona Chiapa, who became the executive director of the council last June.

Child abuse is a serious issue across the nation, and one in every 11 children in Tulare County is a reported victim of abuse or neglect, according to the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council. However, the council is taking great strides to change these statistics. “Ultimately, we want to end child abuse. That’s the goal,” Chiapa says.

The council has provided families with services and resources for more than 30 years, from as far north as Dinuba to as far south as Porterville. Its focus is on prevention and education, and it is working to bring more mandated reporter trainings to the community. “There are a lot of questions that community members have of what roles they play, understanding what is and what isn’t abuse, and how to report,” says Chiapa. “When in doubt, report.”

Several communities in Tulare County have resource centers that supply simple things such as food, clothes and laundry services to families, as well as formal classes, including parenting and CPR classes. Chiapa says these centers are a hub; if they can’t provide the services a family needs, they can connect them with another place that can. Through these resource centers, “we’re seeing amazing work being done in communities that have them and they’re making a significant difference,” Chiapa says.

The Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council recently purchased the Lisa Project in 10, a 10-minute interactive experience about child abuse prevention and awareness, and is bringing it to schools throughout the county. This hands-on educational tool starts and even changes the conversation about child abuse. Curriculum goes with the Lisa Project that teachers can have in their classrooms. “We need to talk about it. We need to have those difficult conversations about child abuse,” says Chiapa.

The Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council also has a group called PACE, which stands for Parent Agency Collaborative Effort. The aim of this group is to encourage parents to be “agents for change” and “leaders in their community,” Chiapa says. The group is a place for parents to vent and have constructive conversations. “They get excited about what they can do and then they are empowered,” says Chiapa.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, also called blue ribbon month, and they want to “paint the town blue with ribbons and signs,” Chiapa says. They kick off the month with a presentation, an update of what the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council has been doing, trends that they’re noticing and continuing the conversation about child abuse. This year, they are also holding a community forum, which is “a great opportunity for people to come and ask questions,” says Chiapa. 

The Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council is always looking for new board members. “We can do more if we work together,” Chiapa says. “It’s a collaborative effort.” The council meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 12:15 pm at the parenting network family resource center in Visalia, 330 North Johnson St.

Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council

631 W. School Ave., Suite 3, Visalia

(559) 735-0456

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