Local Program Helps Prevent Child Abuse

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — Being a parent can be hard, and raising your first baby even harder.

Every year there are 5,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in Lane County. Of those, 1,700 are confirmed–that’s 39 percent higher than the state average. But a Lane County program is looking to change those statistics and says it’s already seeing results.

Super cute and a bundle of happiness is how Nicole Reid describes her baby Madalynn. But for this young, first-time mom parenting has been somewhat perplexing.

“Some days you just want to rip your head off,” Reid said.

So Reid turned to Health Start/Healthy Families of Lane County for home visitation and parenting help.

“I would have been a lot more stressed being a new mom and not having a program like Healthy Start,” Reid said.

Seven at-home visitors work with about 150 Lane County families. Some visit once a week, others twice a month helping parents navigate their newborn.

“We know that those families our families have less chance of abusing and neglecting or child or re-abusing,” said Nancy Bischofs, Healthy State Program Manager.

To be clear, most of the families, including the Reids, have no history of abuse, but there are stressors that without guidance can lead to abuse.

“A lot of parents grow up in stressful situations and finances are as stress or they have post partum depression, they have an alcohol history, and that is some stuff that studies show may be linked to child abuse,” said family support worker Joanna Morales.

This program just received re-accreditation after being studied on national level.

“We are just proud of that that Lane County came under the microscope was shown to be a very high quality program,” Bischofs said.

“I would say, yeah, I am more knowledgeable,” Reid said.

The visitors help the mother until the child is three, but for most these little ones are always a part of their lives.

Despite the large number of cases in Lane County, statistics also show those in Lane County are 27 percent less likely to re-offend, proving to them that programs like this one are working.

Click here to learn more about the free program.

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