It’s hard to believe that it’s already spring––though there is still a chill in the air, the bright sun signifies something new is around the corner. This April, we are once again recognizing a very important cause––Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. The 2022 theme of “growing a better tomorrow for all children, together” captures the heart of what we all wish to see in this world––a brighter more equitable future for all families and all communities.

Through the incredible partnerships our staff have with families, supporters, and other social service organizations, we are doing our part to equip children, families and their communities so that they can bloom and grow. Here are just a few of the programs we are doing to make this possible. 

  • Our Ahlquist team is working with lawmakers to shed light on the many financial stressors families face, including affording diapers, and advocating for expanding cash benefits for families through the Earned Income Credit and a Child Tax Credit.  
  • Our fatherhood programming is making a difference in the lives of more dads––and their families––throughout our Metro Chicago, Central and Northern regions.  
  • We’re providing ongoing, immediate support to families through services like our crisis nurseries and the Butterfly Project. 
  • Parents are connecting with each other, learning new skills, and tapping into their respective strengths through programs like Parents Care & Share.  
  • We’re adding parent partners, like Greg Cox, to our team to speak about successful reunification with his own children who were part of the child welfare system, so no child is in the system a moment longer than needed. You can hear Greg talk about his experiences at one of three online presentations this April by registering on our Blue Bow page. 
  • And we’re unlocking greater economic opportunities for hundreds of families in Chicago and Cook County through innovative collaborations like the 2Gen project. 

This is what ‘doing differently’ looks like in action.  

We are all watching the conflict in the Ukraine and witnessing entire families uprooted to seek safety, stability, and recognize how many families have gone through the same horrors across the globe in Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. In our own work, we know too what this means for families here. Our Viva home-based Early Head Start program serves newly migrating families coping with challenges which can feel insurmountable, creating an unstable environment where a parent is unable to provide care, protection, and support their child might need. But through programs like Viva and our range of home visiting programs across the state, we actively work to center families, planting and nourishing the seed that is at the core of our work: that parents are their children’s first and most important teacher.   

Along every step of the journey, our staff stands alongside parents to help them keep their families intact––from a doula holding a mother’s hand and easing her anxiety as her child takes its first breath to staff guiding a young person to make stronger decisions so that little issues don’t turn into major problems through community-based collaborations like the Illinois Youth Investment Program (IYIP). And our agency outlook on inclusion and racial and social justice empowers our foster care team to connect with LGBTQ families and children in care, offering them the opportunity to access resources that allow biological families a supportive partnership and a path forward––together.  

Join us in the recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month and spread the word about the importance of family-strengthening work and supporting children and families in their most challenging times. Snap a picture while wearing blue and post it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok with the hashtag #GrowingBetterTogether. Engage with us on our agency social media pages––check out our posts, like, and share them in your own networks!  

You can also participate in activities we are hosting this month including our virtual run, listening to one of three scheduled talks with Greg Cox of Parent’s Care & Share as he details his own story of neglect to reunification with his own children, or attending a virtual screening of Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope. More information about these and other events and resources is available on our Blue Bow page. 

By working together, we can ensure that all families have the tools, skills, and experiences they need to thrive and succeed.