Strong Communities for Children program launched

Mary Coussons-Read

Mary Coussons-Read

The CU School of Medicine and UCCS announced April 4 the launch of a Strong Communities for Children program in Colorado Springs.

Meeting at the Lodge as part of the Kempe National Forum, UCCS Provost Mary Coussons-Read and Gary Melton, professor, Department of Pediatrics, Anschutz Medical Campus announced the new program. Melton is also associate director for community development at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect housed on the Anschutz campus.

The Strong Communities for Children approach is a neighborhood-based strategy proposed by the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect when it issued a landmark report 20 years ago that proclaimed a national emergency in the child-protection system.

Since that time, the approach recommended by the board was implemented in Greenville, S.C. The result was stronger community engagement with thousands of volunteers from hundreds of organizations, safer children, parents with better support, and a significant decrease in reports of child maltreatment.

“Strong Communities engages many people who may not think of themselves as people whose job it is to protect children or strengthen families,” said Melton.

“Strong Communities is a preventive intervention that mobilizes entire communities to work together to ensure that every child and every parent know that if they have a reason to celebrate, worry, or grieve, someone will notice, and someone will care.”

Katie Kaukinen

Katie Kaukinen

The project will be based at UCCS under the leadership of Coussons-Read and Katie Kaukinen, associate professor, School of Public Affairs. The project will focus on enhancing support for families with young children by strengthening neighbor-to-neighbor assistance. The goal is to ensure that every child and every parent know they have support available in settings they go every day, such as school, workplaces, child-care centers and places of worship.

The U.S. Advisory Board’s leaders re-convened this week in Aurora and Colorado Springs to commemorate the release of its report. The events were organized by the Kempe Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, which is housed on the Anschutz Medical Campus.