Preventing child abuse and neglect is a tall order. In South Carolina, there were 17,662 children in founded cases of child maltreatment for the most recent state fiscal year.
In South Carolina, one organization is taking on this tall order to prevent cases of child abuse and neglect. For Children’s Trust of South Carolina, just one case of child abuse is one too many.
Created in 1984 by the South Carolina legislature to award grants to nonprofits by addressing abuse through a range of innovative prevention programs, Children’s Trust works to increase child well-being, prevent cases of abuse, and elevate overall child safety.
Today Children’s Trust serves as an umbrella organization, since several other South Carolina nonprofits have merged with the organization over the years. Children’s Trust is now home to Prevent Child Abuse South Carolina, KIDS COUNT South Carolina and Safe Kids South Carolina.
In its mission to strengthen families and lead communities to prevent child abuse and neglect in South Carolina, Children’s Trust offers a wide variety of programs, trainings and conferences to cover all aspects of abuse and neglect prevention. Children’s Trust trains professionals on how to help families, protect and support children, and recognize abuse. In October, the organization hosted a two-day Prevention Conference and Child Passenger Safety Summit that brought together 800 social workers, home visitors, counselors, program administrators, first responders and other child-serving professionals together to share knowledge and strategies.
With a theme of “Embracing Prevention, Empowering Communities,” the Prevention Conference emphasized the role the entire community plays in keeping children safe. More than 40 sessions that covered topics including child brain development, adverse childhood experiences and fatherhood engagement. On the Childhood Passenger Safety Summit side, speakers reviewed safety regulations and updates from car seat manufacturers with volunteer technicians who will spread their knowledge to the thousands of family and children served in the community.
Children’s Trust is also hard at work in continuing the expansion of its Adverse Childhood Experiences Initiative, which focuses on the impact of child maltreatment. Ongoing research shows that children who are exposed to trauma like physical and emotional abuse, divorce, substance use and misuse, domestic violence and mental illness are much more likely to become adults with problems like depression, alcoholism, obesity, heart and liver disease and decreased workplace performance.
In preventing childhood mistreatment, Children’s Trust aims to break generational cycles of abuse and neglect, in turn protecting every child and family in the community.
“Every child needs a champion. Children thrive when families are strong, and families are strong when communities wrap love and support around them,” says Michael Shirley, the community relations coordinator for Children’s Trust. “Prevention is everyone’s responsibility, and children need all of us working together.”
To help prevent child abuse and neglect, donate to the Children’s Trust online at scchildren.org. Donations will fund important familiy strengthening programs, training and other prevention efforts across South Carolina.
In addition, the organization is seeking volunteers to help with ongoing events and projects such as Child Abuse Prevention Month activities in April. Children’s Trust is also always looking for community members to become involved with the work itself, such as becoming one of the organization’s ACE trainers.
If you’re interested in volunteering, visit scchildren.org or call 803-733-5430.