Why Home Mentoring is Key to Child Abuse Prevention
April 18, 2024

Why Home Mentoring is Key to Child Abuse Prevention

By Ona Foster, CEO of Family Compass

[In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we invited Family Compass CEO Ona Foster to write Part Two of our series focusing on the importance of prevention work across North Texas. The Rees-Jones Foundation remains committed to the wellbeing of children across the world and is grateful to partner with child welfare organizations like Family Compass, who are moving upstream to prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring].

 

Understanding the Nuances

Child abuse and neglect are preventable. This may surprise you. We know the root causes that lead to these societal issues: stress in the home, a lack of parenting skills, and conditions in the community. When these factors are effectively addressed, rates of child abuse and neglect plummet. The simple fact is that when parents are given knowledge and hands-on-tools around healthy parenting, they start to improve their competency as parents, their confidence grows, their stress levels drop, the home environment becomes more stable and they begin to engage and interact differently with their children. This ultimately benefits children in homes who will experience healthy parenting so they can, in turn, pass it down to all their future generations.

How do we get there? One of the most effective ways is to go into their home and work directly with parents while the kids are there. Who wouldn’t want a trusted and well-trained parenting educator to come right to your home to model and teach parenting and life skills in your living room? This is called Home Mentoring, and it works. Each family is unique, so the approach and type of evidence-based curriculum to be used in each situation can be tailored, and services are long-term because change doesn’t happen overnight. However, with consistent support over time, a permanent paradigm shift in how a family interacts occurs and generations of children grow up in stable, safe, supportive homes.

Increasingly, on the heels of the pandemic, and with rising inflation, many families in our community are in crisis, struggling to make ends meet, some even choosing between food and rent. At Family Compass we find ourselves now spending 30% more time with each family and have experienced requests for more frequent home mentoring sessions. Whether parents are referred to our voluntary services through school, clinics, other agencies, or increasingly, word-of-mouth, they all have one thing in common: they want to learn to do things differently than they experienced in their own childhood. This brings hope and serves as a light for families in our community.

Jada’s Story

When Jada found out she was pregnant at 17, her world was spinning. It was both exciting and scary to enter this new chapter. She knew that support from her family and the baby’s father would be minimal.

School counselors were really the only resource Jada knew of to ask questions about how to prepare for motherhood. When she learned of Family Compass through her counselor, she felt immediate relief and hope for the first time since this all started.

Jada found support, meeting one-on-one at home with a Parent Educator weekly to learn about her little girl’s developmental milestones and so much more. The free diapers and formula were a blessing too.

It was tough going to school, working, and being a mom, but the support from the organization helped her every step of the way. Jada couldn’t imagine life without her daughter, Sophia, and wanted a better life for her.

Proven Results

We hear stories like Jada’s over and over. Relief and stability are everything to parents facing an uphill battle. Jada has since completed her Home Mentoring program and her little family is doing better than ever! The tailored support was instrumental in guiding her in the right direction.

Proven models ultimately increase resilience, social connection, self-esteem, emotional health, and stability for children. In 2023, Family Compass provided 581 children and parents with Home Mentoring support.

Our Partnership

The Rees-Jones Foundation believes children are our greatest gifts and should have the right to be raised in safe, healthy families. Organizations like Family Compass, that focus upstream of critical issues like child abuse and domestic violence, are paving the way for prevention work to become commonplace in our communities, so that children never have to experience abuse or neglect. The Foundation  is grateful to work with child welfare organizations in our city who are walking alongside families so children can reach their full potential and thrive.



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