April declared Child Abuse Prevention Month

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has declared the month of April 2011 as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Oakland County.

In 2008, the last year for which Child Protective Services has published data, reported cases of child abuse in Michigan increased by more than 1,500 from the previous year after nearly four years of decline. According to a report called "Breaking the Cycle of Child Abuse and Reducing Crime in Michigan" issued by the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, 29,638 children were victims of neglect and abuse in Michigan in 2007. Of those victims, 1,185 have the potential to become violent criminals as adults because of their abuse.

In addition, the report says that the United States Department of Justice estimates the total costs from child neglect and abuse in Michigan is $2 billion annually.

"Oakland County Health Division has two initiatives to help prevent child abuse and neglect--the Nurse Family-Partnership and Nurturing Parenting programs," said Patterson. "From what we've seen so far, these programs appear to be having a positive impact on families."

The Nurse-Family Partnership program identifies 100 first-time, high-risk, low-income mothers in their first trimester. Oakland County public health nurses then begin a program of intensive visitations to the homes of the expectant mothers--several visits per week--to assist them throughout their pregnancies. Throughout the program, the county's public health nurses provide education and coaching regarding nutrition, parenting skills, smoking cessation, alcohol and drug abuse avoidance and refer them to needed medical care and community resources. The public health nurses continue to work with the selected mothers and their children until the children reach 2-1/2 years.

"The NFP program has more than 30 years of research proving its effectiveness in helping clients to become self-sufficient, secure and healthy, which are important steps in the prevention of child abuse. In addition, proper nutrition during pregnancy and infancy is an essential foundation to lifelong health and well-being," said Kathy Forzley, Oakland County Health Division manager.

A Washington State Institute for Public Policy study found a net economic impact savings of $18,000 for each family served by Nurse-Family Partnership programs.

The other prevention program, Nurturing Parenting, identifies 90 families each year that are at high risk for neglect and abuse. Through this program, nurses visit families weekly to provide parenting skill lessons that meet their needs. The goal is to reduce incidents of child abuse and neglect. In 90% of child abuse cases in Michigan, the perpetrator is a parent, according to Child Protective Services.

For additional information on Oakland County's Nurse-Family Partnership or Nurturing Parenting program, call the Health Division's Nurse On Call at (248) 858-1406 or go to http://www.oakgov.com/health/program_service/nfp.html. For additional information on Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Michigan, go to www.fightcrime.org.

Published: Mon, Apr 4, 2011