April 10, 2021 — The 90by30 Child Abuse Prevention Program of Lane County has the aspirational goal of reducing child abuse and neglect by 90 percent by the year 2030. When west Lane County communities were surveyed in 2014, nearly 90 percent of respondents said the goal was important and the responsibility of the whole community.
Given this directive, a growing number of stalwart community volunteers have been working to implement “preventive strategies” throughout the Siuslaw region, with each of the strategies backed by research that demonstrates effectiveness.
“If a community has enough of these preventive strategies in place, parents will feel more supported, will know how to access resources in times of difficulty, and will be less apt to hurt or neglect their children,” said Suzanne Mann-Heintz, director of the 90by30 program. “It’s like building a safety net for children to keep them from falling into the sea of adversities that can take them down.”
One of the newest strategies is the development of Host Home Teams using the model employed by Safe Families for Children. Safe Families is an international program based on the mandate “to care for the most vulnerable amongst us.” West Lane Safe Families for Children was officially formed in February of 2021 in collaboration with Safe Shelter for Siuslaw Students; Safe Families for Children of Lane County became a partner with 90by30 in July 2020.
The Host Home Teams model provides a structure for taking care of children in times of need. Arrangements can be short-term or long-term; maybe a single parent is having surgery and needs someone to care for their children for a few weeks; maybe a parent becomes homeless and needs their children to be cared for while they take steps to find a home; maybe a working parent needs childcare but can’t afford it or find a provider; or maybe a teenager can’t stay at home anymore and needs a safe place to live while continuing their schooling.
“All placements are temporary and voluntary, with Host Homes made up of volunteers who receive training provided by the program — with everyone’s goal to keep children safe and keep families together,” Mann-Heintz said.
Another program of Safe Families for Children is the Mommy Mentor program, where new moms are paired with more experienced moms who lend support during the first year or so of a baby’s life.
Mommy Mentors make themselves available a couple of times per month to help the new mom with advice, housework, free time, appointments, transportation, etc.
“By easing some of the stresses of having a new baby, Mommy Mentors promote the well-being of new moms, which in turn supports the healthy development of their infants,” explained Mann-Heintz. “It’s a win-win-win. Safe Families for Children volunteers provide one more strand in that safety net of prevention to reduce child abuse and neglect by 90 percent by the year 2030.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the program or volunteering can contact Mann-Heintz by email at [email protected] or by calling 541-590-0779.