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March 31, 2017

Building nurturing communities strengthens families and prevents child abuse and neglect

Jefferson City, MO— April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the Children's Division says one of the best ways to prevent abuse and neglect is to create nurturing communities that help strengthen families.  Tim Decker, Children's Division Director, stated, "Community members play a vital role in supporting parents and caregivers in activities that strengthen families and keep children safe."

Coping with a child's behavior, dealing with stress, worries about money, work, or the daily demands of family life can challenge or overwhelm a parent.  When a community can support and provide resources a struggling parent needs during a difficult time, the parent becomes stronger and the child can safely remain with the family.

You can help make your community a nurturing place that builds stronger families. Meet your neighbors, participate in your child's school or community activities, volunteer, join or create a group where parents and children play or serve together, or become involved in local service organizations, government or school board meetings.

Following are other ways to make a family stronger and keep children safe. 

  • Showing your child  each day that he or she is loved by talking, smiling, or hugging
  • Learning what children can do at different ages and better ways to parent
  • Remaining positive and strong when you face a challenge or are under stress.
  • Keeping helpful and supportive family, friends, and neighbors around you
  • Showing your child you care about him or her; encourage children to talk about feelings
  • Carefully choosing who cares for your child; not every relative or friend is a safe choice
  • Getting help if you are unable to provide care, food, medical care, or keep your child safe

Child abuse or neglect has lifelong consequences for children, families, and communities.  Together we can partner and collaborate to keep children safe, support families, engage community members, and prevent child abuse and neglect.

In fiscal year 2016, the Children's Division received 72,388 reports of suspected abuse and neglect, which resulted in contact with families to ensure child safety and to assess the family's needs for services and supports.

The Department of Social Services strongly encourages anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-3738 or 1-844-CAN-TELL.  The Missouri Child Care Abuse and Neglect Hotline is answered 24-hours a day, every day, all year round.


Media Contact

Rebecca Woelfel