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NH Children’s Trust on DCYF review – Invest in prevention

December 21, 2016

NH Children’s Trust on DCYF review – Invest in prevention

The Center for the Support of Families recently published the Quality Assurance Review of the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). The findings and recommendations, found here:, reflect how pervasive and complex the issue of the state of child maltreatment in New Hampshire is. New Hampshire Children’s Trust, New Hampshire’s only statewide community-based nonprofit organization with the sole mission of child abuse prevention, recognizes that eliminating child abuse and neglect requires an approach in which parents, families, communities, organizations and policies are addressed.

By the time families enter the child protection system, they are in crisis. Child Protective Service Workers have tough jobs. In order for DCYF workers to do their jobs, the organization must properly staff, educate, support and compensate their staff for this crucial work. As a state that cares for the safety and well-being of all our children, we must ensure DCYF has the resources it needs to do this most important work.

NH Children’s Trust strives to support DCYF in its future work through prevention strategies that strengthen families. Many cases of abuse and neglect can be prevented through parent education and concrete support. NH Children’s Trust utilizes research-informed, strength-based approaches that protect children from harm, including integral training, technical assistance, resources, evaluation and accreditation support to direct-service programs. As a state that cares for the safety and well-being of all our children, we must ensure communities have the resources they need to support families with high-quality, accessible programs.

Families under DCYF investigation can face a multitude of stressors including single parenthood, low parental income, substance abuse, mental health issues, history of abuse or neglect, social isolation, intimate partner violence, poor parent-child relationships and concentrated neighborhood disadvantage.

“Abuse and neglect is often the result of extreme stress,” said Keryn Bernard-Kriegl, Executive Director of NH Children’s Trust, “but when we give parents the resources and skills they need, their children are more likely to thrive.”

The best way to stop child abuse and neglect is to make sure it never occurs. Community services that provide trauma-informed counseling, mental health and substance abuse treatment services, domestic violence services, parenting education, mentoring and basic needs support are essential in reducing family stress, keeping children safe and families strong.

Research shows that investment in prevention services such as family resource centers and voluntary home visiting for every child prenatal through age 3 is the most efficient and effective way to reduce child maltreatment. New Hampshire must fund these efforts to ensure that high quality programs are geographically and financially accessible to every New Hampshire family.

“Our state does not currently invest general funds in child maltreatment prevention,” Bernard-Kriegl said. “It’s time to change that.”

NH Children's Trust, the New Hampshire chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America, is committed to eliminating child abuse and neglect by educating providers who work with children and families about strategies to help families thrive and strengthen communities. The organization strives to improve systems and public policies to support healthy outcomes for children and engage the public to take action to eliminate child abuse and neglect in New Hampshire.