DFPS working to prevent child abuse

State working to prevent child abuse cases

The Department of Family and Protective Services is working to prevent child abuse before it happens.

We often hear about the awful cases of child abuse or neglect that cause Child Protective Services to intervene, but DFPS said there are resources for parents to deal with the stress of parenting.

"None of us are really taught to be parents, it's something we just learn on the job,” said Andy Miller, president and CEO of Any Baby Can.

Miller said they offer parenting classes, saying education is key to preventing abuse.

"We know that when parents are stressed, when they feel frustrated, or worse when they feel they have no options and no support, that's when families can be at risk,” said Miller.

Stacy Bruce, vice president with Safe Alliance and executive director of the Austin Children's Shelter said they want to put an end to that risk of child abuse or neglect.

"We know that the key to stopping, ending child abuse is prevention,” said Bruce. "We know that if we can get to those families with those little ones, we do have much more of an opportunity to affect change and the trajectory of the life of those children, but also the families."

With their programs, they offer in home support, therapy, and classes for parents and kids. Bruce said one program, Strong Start, focuses on children under the age of 5.

According to Sasha Rasco, assistant commissioner for prevention and early intervention at DFPS, they used to focus a lot of the prevention programs on youth, but now that they see 80 percent child abuse fatalities happen under the age of 5, they're shifting the emphasis to the younger group.

Rasco said these resources are important in preventing abuse.

"The whole idea being that we get to families that might be struggling a little, but wouldn't yet warrant a call to CPS, so it's thinking ahead,” said Rasco.

Both of these organizations are resources for parents in Travis County, but Williamson County could see their own programs soon.

"It's important to give parents the skills they need to do this job well,” said Rasco.

Texas lawmakers designated a little more than $100,000 over the next two years, solely for prevention.

Williamson County is competing with 15 other counties for eight grants, money that would allow the counties to decide which prevention programs would be best in their community to prevent abuse.

"What parents have told us is they get lots of information about immunization, and school and the physical care of their children, what they're missing is how to deal with the stress of of being a parent...what do you do when you're baby won't stop crying in the middle of the night and you haven't gotten any sleep," said Rasco.

If you want to find resources near you, go here to search by county at the DFPS website.

Go here for information from Help and Hope.

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