Every six hours, a child is killed by abuse or neglect. In 2011 in Los Angeles County alone, there were 126,833 reported cases of child abuse or neglect (41% were children under 5 years old). This disproportionality is devastating and if not addressed, could be irreversible. Extensive research shows a very high correlation between prolonged trauma in infancy and childhood and serious, long-term effects, including school failure, unemployment, obesity, depression, addiction, and even chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, liver disease and emphysema.
However, children are resilient. Research reveals that with the right interventions, especially introducing the presence of a stable, nurturing adult with whom the child can develop secure attachment (a child’s belief in the reliability, availability and responsiveness of a nurturing caregiver), can protect the child from the long-term effects of trauma.
WCC’s Child-Centered Family Strengthening Programs:
WCC contracts with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to provide family strengthening services and foster care and adoption to over 100 families each month. To increase efficiencies and provide the highest quality services, we have structured our team of child welfare professionals to include licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) working in tandem with staff with master’s degrees to be able to provide services to families, whether they come to us as foster care placements or as a biological family who needs support to reunite with their child.
WCC’s child-centered family strengthening programs include:
- Family Preservation
- Prevention and Aftercare
These programs protect at-risk children and strengthen families who are referred to us either by DCFS or by the probation department for abuse or neglect. Our trained staff works with high-risk families to address issues such as violence, substance abuse, isolation, and depression through in-home and on-site assessments, individual and family counseling, attachment therapy, parenting classes and extensive case management. Through this process, WCC helps parents improve their parenting skills as well as the conditions that have led to child abuse and neglect, while at the same time ensuring that the child is safe and receiving the emotional and educational care he or she needs to thrive. After working with WCC, over 90% of DCFS-referred families develop the parenting skills and create the environment necessary for their child to return.
Footnotes: (Children’s Defense Fund, 2010) (Kidsdata.org, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health) (Tough, 13) (Center for the Study of Social Policy, 2009). (Tough, 38)