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April is Family Strengthening Month

5 for families graphic

April is Family Strengthening Month in Wisconsin, a transformation of the observance of National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month with the mission to focus on the strengths families can draw on to build a safe and nurturing family environment. Led by the state Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Children’s Wisconsin, and Prevent Child Abuse Wisconsin, with multiple local partners, the month allows organizations, policy leaders, and families to recommit to supporting and strengthening healthy family bonds.

This month, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute and our partners Neu-Life Community Development and The Parenting Network are happy to announce a new resource for families who need support in building these healthy bonds. As a consortium, we are launching the Strengthening Families Program in Milwaukee County thanks to a five-year grant from the Department of Children and Families. This grant enables the consortium partners to engage with families who have had contact with the Department of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS) but were found not to be in need of further services from DMCPS. Nevertheless, these families may need extra supports and services provided by the consortium partners to prevent abuse from occurring at home. These supports can include housing assistance, domestic violence services, substance use treatment, parenting classes, positive youth activities, and more. All program participants will be referred by DMCPS and participation is voluntary.

Staffing this new two-generation program at Community Advocates are Lauren Faulds as Program Manager and Jackson Neal and Christine Wiese as Engagement Specialists, as well as Peer Support Advocates at Neu-Life Community Development and The Parenting Network.

“We are excited to be involved in this pilot program, which recognizes that we need to address upstream factors that can lead to child abuse and neglect, such as housing instability and homelessness, trauma and toxic stress, and lack of culturally appropriate resources and services,” said Kari Southern, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute Deputy Director. “We hope that families will take this opportunity to utilize this new resource so that they can create more stable, nurturing, and healthy families.”

“Parenting doesn’t come with a manual and many parents can be overwhelmed and stressed by their responsibilities,” said Joyce Felker, Executive Director of The Parenting Network. “We don’t offer a one-size-fits-all manual for parenting, but we do have a long history of working with parents and anyone in a parenting role who seek to recognize their own strengths and how they can draw on those strengths to be the kind of caregivers their kids need.”

“Kids thrive when they have trusted adults in their life and meaningful activities that give them a sense of accomplishment and purpose,” said Jody Rhodes, Executive Director of Neu-Life Community Development. “We are looking forward to supporting youth with their school and career goals, discovering their talents and passions, and forming healthy relationships with adults and peers.”

In addition to launching the Strengthening Families Milwaukee program this month, Community Advocates and The Parenting Network also partner on leading the Milwaukee Child Abuse Prevention Services Public Policy Committee, which brings together state and local stakeholders to create an effective system for protecting the health and safety of youth in Milwaukee County.

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