TALLAHASSEE — The Department of Children and Families (Department) Secretary Shevaun Harris joined key partners in recognizing April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and together planted pinwheels at Florida’s Historic Capitol. Pinwheels are the national symbol for child abuse prevention and serve as a reminder of the happy and carefree environment desired for every child. Everyone can play a role in supporting families in order to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Governor Ron DeSantis has declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in Florida, and Florida is committed to improving the lives of all children and families.
“The Department recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect,” said Secretary Shevaun Harris. “We will continue to collaborate with our partners on ensuring the safety of all children in our state. Child and family well-being is a top priority for the Department and over the past few years we have put a major focus on our prevention efforts. Through programs like Family Navigation and First Lady Casey DeSantis’ Hope Florida – A Pathway to Prosperity, we are able to support strong and resilient families in Florida.”
“There is no greater charge in government than to protect those who are the most vulnerable among us,” said Agency for Persons with Disabilities Director, Taylor Hatch. “Thank you to Secretary Harris and the Department of Children and Families for leading the charge and challenging each of us to look farther upstream to provide supports at the earliest moment possible and to avoid deeper end crisis for the most precious of Floridians – our children.”
“It is an honor to come together with agency and community leaders to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month and the important role we all play in ensuring our children are growing up in a safe environment where they are happy, healthy, and thriving,” said Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Eric Hall. “It is important that we reach children early in life because those first experiences will inevitably shape who they will one day become. We will continue to support our kids and families with the help they need before they are in crisis to make a positive impact in their lives and help them succeed.”
“The Florida Department of Health is honored to participate in the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign with partners as a demonstration of our commitment to ensuring children have an opportunity to enjoy safe, healthy, and happy childhoods,” said Florida Department of Health Assistant Deputy Secretary for Health Melissa Jordan. “This Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recognize that promoting healthy families, strong communities, and raising awareness about protective factors can reduce the risk of child maltreatment. We all play a vital role in the prevention of child abuse, and we will continue to work through statewide collaborative efforts like the State Health Improvement Plan to protect Florida’s children and families.”
“We will never stop moving upstream to strengthen families and communities before abuse or neglect occurs,” said Jenn Petion, President and CEO of Family Support Services. “By reaching families before crisis happens, we can prevent a hotline call from ever needing to be made. This is the future of child welfare.”
“Everyone has a role to play in promoting happy, healthy childhoods and empowering families to be resilient and strong,” said Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida President and CEO Jennifer L. Ohlsen. “We believe in building on the strengths of individuals, families and communities to prevent problems before a crisis occurs. We are proud to partner with the Governor and First Lady, Secretary Harris, and the many organizations across our state in this important effort. Today, I am full of hope for the future of every one of Florida’s children.”
This month is a time when child wellness and child welfare organizations across the U.S. elevate the importance of creating systems and programs that put children and families first. Extreme stress and uncertainty for families may increase the risk of child abuse and neglect raising the need to support families and prevent abuse before it occurs. Child abuse and neglect are preventable, and all communities benefit when children and families are well supported.
Throughout CAP month, Prevent Child Abuse Florida, its national organization Prevent Child Abuse America, alongside other chapters, affiliates, and supporting organizations are using the metaphor of building blocks and construction to reinforce the concept that prevention cannot and does not happen alone. Prevent Child Abuse Florida recognizes that all community members have a role in ensuring children have positive experiences and families have the resources they need when they need them, well before they are in crisis. The theme of this year’s awareness and impact campaign, led by Prevent Child Abuse America and its national network of state chapters, is “Building Together: Prevention in Partnership.”