April is National Child Abuse Prevention month and as it closes out, I wanted to reflect on this important issue and the work of our Safe Babies Healthy Families team.
The Safe Babies Healthy Families program addresses the root causes of abuse and neglect to ensure that all children are raised in safe, nurturing homes. In 2017 there were 5,632 substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect in Wisconsin and at Easterseals Southeast Wisconsin we are working to move that number to 0. The needs in our community are great and we are excited to announce that with the support of the State of Wisconsin- Department of Children and Families: Family Foundations Home Visiting program, we are able to expand the program to serve even more families.
Our team of case workers provide home visiting services to families in Waukesha, Milwaukee and Walworth counties to pregnant women and families with children up to age 5. In addition to preventing child abuse (last year 99% of children in the program were free of substantiated abuse and neglect), the program supports healthy pregnancies, screens and identifies maternal depression to allow for early intervention, and provides targeted activities to support children to be on-track developmentally so they are ready to enter school and learn with their peers.
Starting in May, we will add two case managers to our team, allowing us to serve an additional 25 families at any given time and will bring the program capacity to 210 families.
The Safe Babies Healthy Families team, led by program manager, Karen Villarreal, do an incredible job at being a resource for families and helping them build key skills to support their children. I am grateful to the team for the work that they do every day and for the confidence that the State of Wisconsin has in our program to entrust us with the ability to serve these additional families. I am also grateful for each of you, our partners, donors and friends—you too are so critical to our success.