National Child Abuse Prevention Month is designed to raise public awareness of the all-too pervasive problem of child abuse. As child care professionals, we have a unique role in protecting children from abuse or neglect. Not only do we have to ensure that our own programs are safe places for children, but we also have to watch for signs of abuse or neglect that occur outside of our programs.
Protecting children is one of our utmost priorities and we must ensure that all of our staff members understand how to do this. The first step is establishing a Child Abuse Prevention, Identification, and Reporting Policy that will make sure that your program is designed to prevent child abuse and that all staff are trained on how to prevent, identify and correctly report instances of suspected child abuse or neglect. As an addendum to this policy, you will need a Child Guidance Policy to make sure that every staff member is perfectly clear on how to provide appropriate guidance to the children in their care and what are unacceptable behaviors with children. The final piece of your child protection triad is a Touch Policy that spells out appropriate and inappropriate touch.
In order to be effective, these policies must be part of your New Employee Orientation and must be included in your on-going staff training on at least an annual basis (perhaps in April, for a built-in reminder).
On a larger scale, you may want to consider hosting some sort or child abuse awareness event such as:
- Wear blue (or blue ribbons) for child abuse awareness.
- Provide blue ribbons for your staff and parents to wear or tie to their car antennas.
- Host a "Party for Prevention" with activities for children and donate all proceeds to a local child protection agency.
- Provide a display of pinwheels (maybe made by your children) on your property as part of a national display representing healthy futures for children.
- Have a staff "casual dress" day in exchange for donating $5 each to a local child protection agency. Encourage other businesses to do the same.
- Provide your
parents with a copy of the calendar "30 Ways to Promote Child Well-Being During National Child Abuse Prevention Month". (click on "Activity Calendar" about halfway down the page, in the center section)Misty