Prevention with a Purpose: Interview with Dorothy Davis
Parents Care & Share offers families a sense of community in a small, but safe space. If they are struggling with something, they know there is a place to go where they are not alone. By educating and supporting parents, we can help prevent child abuse.
In April we recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This year’s theme of Thriving Children and Families: Prevention with Purpose is bringing light to the immense pressure families are under from increased responsibilities and unforeseen challenges due to COVID. Through our Blue Bow Campaign, Parents Care & Share program, and other services, we offer resources and tools for managing these stressors and share steps that everyone can take to prevent child abuse.
Dorothy Davis, one of the regional coordinators of Parents Care & Share, explains how we are partnering with families to ease the frustration that comes with raising children before issues become greater social problems.
Parents need people they can rely on when they are feeling overwhelmed. Without advice or access to support, parents can feel isolated and there are higher risks for child abuse and neglect. Through our groups parents connect with each other and incorporate new skills and strategies to ensure the health of their families.
Dorothy’s understanding and empathy when working with families in need is the result of many years working with vulnerable groups in various settings. She’s spent time working in hospitals, gerontology, foster care case management, and treatment centers, positions where Dorothy gained experience facilitating and leading groups.
Working alongside staff, partners, volunteers, and families, Dorothy has generated momentum for Blue Bow, expanding awareness of steps for preventing child abuse and helping parents make positive changes in their lives. “We honor the dedication of our staff and parents who work to ensure families have what they need to thrive,” Dorothy reflects. “Local leaders and agency partners understand how this issue impacts the health of communities and are increasingly engaged in solutions. It’s a collaborative effort.”
At the heart of Blue Bow and the Parents Care & Share program are the six protective factors – nurturing and attachment, knowledge of parenting and child development, parental resilience, social connections, and concrete supports for parents – which provide an essential framework for child abuse prevention, helping families to identify their strengths and develop coping strategies for parenting effectively, even under stress.
Connections are critical. Parents with a network of friends, neighbors and family often find it is easier to care for their children and themselves. These emotional supports are even more important when additional issues are involved such as pandemic-related concerns or being new to a community, recently divorced or a first-time parent.
Preventing child abuse is all about forming a relationship with parents where they feel comfortable to share their experiences openly. When parents are able to bring up the pressures they’re dealing with, no matter what they might be, and we can work on solutions together.
Concrete supports help to empower families. Difficulty meeting basic needs, limited financial resources, lack of health insurance or an unexpected crisis, can impact the ability of parents to nurture their children’s healthy development. Parents Care & Share connects families with information so that parents have more time and energy to devote to their children’s safety and wellbeing.
Parents understand what it’s like when there is a lot to juggle at once and tensions are high in the household. The groups decide what they want to talk about. With many kids being home all day during the pandemic, finding time to take care of themselves is often a topic of conversation. They think through solutions together for managing stress in these situations. Dorothy and her facilitators are there to listen and provide support.
Parents have a wealth of experience to bring to the table. They understand the needs of their communities and can relate to what each other is going through in a unique way. Families right now are struggling with difficult questions. For example, how do you have a holiday with less money while also trying to be COVID-safe? The parents are processing these things together.
Team members – like Dorothy – are proactive, working to intervene and assist parents before issues become greater social problems. Reaching out to parents in order to ensure the social and emotional well-being of the children and families in our communities.
That’s the beauty of Parents Care & Share. It’s a partnership. Parents listen to one another and offer encouragement. Facilitators are there as a sounding board and guide. There is shared respect for people’s perspectives and experiences. This is how change happens and communities begin to heal.
To learn more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, our Blue Bow Campaign, resources, and events, click here.
Photo Caption: Parents Care & Share groups gather in-person pre-COVID. Now parents connect online via ZOOM for support.