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Family Strategy Pays Off for Preventing Child Abuse in West Virgina

July 16, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Advocates say they are having some success with a national program designed to prevent child abuse by strengthening families, with six sites in two West Virginia counties taking part in a pilot project.

Gretta Hill, site director for Playmates Child Development Center in Westmoreland, a suburb of Huntington, says one idea is to help families get help in times of crisis, such as the loss of a job or a personal problem.

"Those things can lead to stress in the home, which can lead to child abuse. A lot of times people don't even know that there's utility assistance, you know, or that there's a food bank."

The theory is to connect families to a network of support, says Debra Bowyer, project coordinator with the Cabell County Family Resource Network.

"Build circles of caring around parents, so if they were to have an emergency and need to be linked up with a community resource, the programs would be aware of how to connect those parents to that resource."

After three years, the program is set to expand to 22 sites in Wayne and Cabell Counties. The $25,000 annual grant has been funded by the state and a charitable foundation, and administered by Prevent Child Abuse West Virginia.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV