Because Childhood Lasts a Lifetime.

A Message from Dr. Merrick on Shifting the Narrative to Child & Family Well-being

Statements & Messages

2020 was a challenging year for many of us—for all of us—but I’m hopeful 2021 will be different…better. In this time of widespread change, we are acutely aware of the need to honestly assess where we’ve been and plot a deliberate course forward for ourselves, our organizations, and our communities. The choices we make and actions we take today will inform how we all flourish in the years to come.

That’s why, in 2021 Prevent Child Abuse America is committing to reshaping how our country addresses child abuse and neglect prevention. We intend to continue to shift the narrative away from reactive, after-the-fact child welfare systems to a proactive, holistic approach that supports child and family well-being. We will work across the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to assist communities in developing more just and equitable systems that benefit all children and families and break harmful intergenerational cycles of trauma and poverty.

We recognize that all families need help sometimes and that seeking help is a sign of strength and resiliency. Community and family supports help keep children safe and well—we should strive to keep children safe with their families as opposed to safe from their families. By enlisting diverse community stakeholders—most importantly, families with lived expertise—we can help to discern and develop the supports, resources, services, and approaches to meet the unique needs of their families and promote the conditions to help all of us thrive.

We will also align resources to provide a full prevention continuum that strengthens community protective factors and mitigates associated risk factors. This is the moment to build a child and family well-being system that propels families to grow and thrive together—on their own terms. But this work must extend beyond discrete programs and processes. It must become the lens through which we view the entirety of our efforts. As Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman shared on Inauguration Day:

The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Please join me in 2021 and beyond to help ensure the safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments that enable children, families, and entire communities to succeed—today and for generations to come.

Together, we can prevent child abuse, America…because childhood lasts a lifetime.

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