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Family and Children's
Resource Program

Vol. 24, No. 1
February 2019

NC's Local Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Plans

by Sharon Hirsch, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina

Given the changes that will be coming from the Family First Prevention Services Act, is your agency thinking about how to lead your community toward a focus on prevention?

If so, it may want to consider North Carolina's promising CBCAPP model. With funding from the NC Division of Social Services and the Essentials for Childhood initiative through the NC Division of Public Health and other unrestricted sources, Prevent Child Abuse NC (PCANC) is able to provide technical assistance, training, and support to create local CBCAPPs. With this funding, PCANC helps communities and local agencies improve system alignment, introduce and evaluate new child maltreatment prevention programming, and build community capacity to support prevention programs and services across the faith, nonprofit, and public sectors.

The CBCAPP Model
The Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Plan (CBCAPP) model brings the goals and strategies of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Essentials for Childhood" (E4C) initiative and the NC Institute of Medicine's E4C Task Force's recommendations to life at the local level.

The CBCAPP model, which is built on the Protective Factors Framework outlined in the box below, seeks to educate, empower, and support communities on effective prevention strategies so every child grows up in a safe, stable, nurturing environment. In support of this goal, the CBCAPP process engages community partners and parents to assess community needs and create an action plan to implement evidence-based programs, policies, and strategies.

The Protective Factors Framework

1. Parental Resilience. No one can eliminate stress from parenting, but a parent's capacity for resilience can affect how a parent deals with stress. Resilience is the ability to manage and bounce back from all types of challenges that emerge in every family's life. It means finding ways to solve problems, building and sustaining trusting relationships including relationships with your own child, and knowing how to seek help when necessary.

2. Social Connections. Friends, family members, neighbors and community members provide emotional support, help solve problems, offer parenting advice and give concrete assistance to parents. Networks of support are essential to parents and also offer opportunities for people to "give back," an important part of self-esteem as well as a benefit for the community. Isolated families may need extra help in reaching out to build positive relationships.

3. Concrete Support in Times of Need. Meeting basic economic needs like food, shelter, clothing and health care is essential for families to thrive. Likewise, when families encounter a crisis such as domestic violence, mental illness or substance abuse, adequate services and supports need to be in place to provide stability, treatment and help for family members to get through the crisis.

4. Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development. Accurate information about child development and appropriate expectations for children's behavior at every age help parents see their children and youth in a positive light and promote their healthy development. Information can come from many sources, including family members as well as parent education classes and surfing the internet. Studies show information is most effective when it comes at the precise time parents need it to understand their own children. Parents who experienced harsh discipline or other negative childhood experiences may need extra help to change the parenting patterns they learned as children.

5. Social and Emotional Competence of Children. A child or youth's ability to interact positively with others, self-regulate their behavior and effectively communicate their feelings has a positive impact on their relationships with their family, other adults, and peers. Challenging behaviors or delayed development create extra stress for families, so early identification and assistance for both parents and children can head off negative results and keep development on track.

Reprinted from the Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2012

Once a community's action plan is created, a local team is formed to implement it and measure progress. CBCAPP measures of success are identified through the lens of the Pathways to Grade Level Reading initiative and child welfare outcomes measured by the local county DSS agency.

Cumberland County's CBCAPP
PCANC works with communities across the state to ensure all children in every county grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing community where families thrive. PCANC provides services and support to strengthen planning, assess readiness, and build model fidelity for implementation of prevention strategies at the local level. CBCAPPs are part of this work.

In 2016, PCANC partnered with Cumberland County to develop the first CBCAPP with financial support from the Essentials for Childhood project and the Division of Social Services provided funding for PCANC's technical assistance and training. This plan was created by the SOAR Committee (SOAR = Strengths in Overcoming Adversity thru Resiliency), a cross-sector group of over 40 organizations and individuals that meets monthly to develop strategies to prevent child maltreatment by enhancing Protective Factors. Using a collective impact approach, the group develops strategies to increase knowledge of the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), with a focus on child maltreatment prevention. The first phase of Cumberland's plan was unanimously approved by the county's Board of Commissioners in 2017.

Due in large part to SOAR's work, Cumberland County was named the lead county for Triple P implementation in their new Triple P multi-county region. Triple P is one of the most effective evidence-based parenting programs in the world. This expansion, which was made possible through partnerships with the NC Divisions of Public Health and Social Services, will bring this program to Cumberland County in the next phase of the state's expansion of Triple P. (Although evidence-based parenting programs such as Nurturing Parenting existed in Cumberland before the implementation of Triple P, they were not universal and did not go as far upstream as the community wanted.)

Army Community Services at Ft. Bragg has also been a key partner. They brought the facilitator training for the "Be Strong Families Parent Cafe" model to Cumberland in 2018, training over 20 people to host parent cafes. Cumberland's Parent Engagement Committee has hosted a number of cafes to date, with many more planned through the end of June 2019. Feedback on the cafes is overwhelmingly positive: people return month after month to connect with fellow parents in a safe and supportive environment to discuss their victories and challenges as parents.

At Ft. Bragg, all parents of children under age three are eligible to receive home visiting services through the Army's New Parent Support Program. However, the wider community does not have access to a universal home visiting program. Because SOAR identified this as a need, Family Connects International is currently assessing Cumberland County's readiness and sustainability for implementing their universal home visiting model throughout Cumberland County.

Grounded in data, Cumberland's CBCAPP is a living document that changes as needs and opportunities present themselves. SOAR is currently evaluating the next steps to bring awareness of child maltreatment prevention strategies to the next level.

Expanding to Other Counties
Onslow and Transylvania Counties are currently engaged in the CBCAPP process. With funding from the John Rex Endowment, PCANC and SAFEChild are supporting the CBCAPP process for Wake County. Other counties are also being assessed for readiness to lead in a collective impact initiative.

With funding from the NC Division of Social Services, PCANC will support up to four counties in SFY 2018-19 to create local CBCAPPs. Selected counties will be expected to:

  • Screen the documentary Resilience: The Biology of Stress + The Science of Hope,
  • Conduct a readiness assessment,
  • Identify a local "backbone" agency to bring the community together for a collective impact project,
  • Facilitate Community Cafes with stakeholders (including parents who have had interactions with the child welfare system), and
  • Engage in training about the Protective Factors framework.

The Protective Factors training helps participants envision a shift in the way they work with families and provides a guidepost for the types of supports a community wants to build to assure children are in safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments so that they grow to become healthy and thriving adults. The training is appropriate for child welfare professionals, community partners, and families.

Interested in Creating a CBCAPP?
Priority for readiness assessment for counties initiating CBCAPPs will be given to communities where the Community Child Protection Team asks to lead the planning process. Priority will also be given to military or tribal communities.

Once a county interested in creating a CBCAPP contacts PCANC, PCANC begins a readiness assessment. There is no formal application process; the communities most ready and able will move forward first. (If a county has additional funding, it may be possible for PCANC to work with more than four communities.)

The CBCAPPs ultimately created by participating counties will include:

  • An analysis of existing programs and gaps,
  • Goals for strengthening Protective Factors, and
  • An evaluation plan with qualitative measures using Pathways to Grade Level Reading indicators plus child abuse substantiation rates and the number of children entering foster care.

Completed plans will be approved by local Boards of County Commissioners and indicators of success will be reported annually to the community in April during Child Abuse Prevention Month for accountability and ongoing commitment to prevention across the government, nonprofit, faith, and business sectors. All plans will be based on the model and theory of change developed by Cumberland County.

PCANC will provide training on the Protective Factors Framework and technical assistance using implementation science. The technical assistance may include support for accessing and using data, identifying local financing options for evidence-based family strengthening programs, or guidance on strategies to engage the community. PCANC will help CBCAPP communities fill the gaps, align resources, and build capacity to sustain evidence-based family strengthening programs to build Protective Factors, reduce child maltreatment, and reduce the number of children entering foster care.

You can learn more about the CBCAPP process at PCANC's Connections Matter Summit, which will be held March 5-6, 2019 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, or by contacting Melea Rose-Waters at

References for this and other articles in this issue