A Message from Dr. Merrick about Child Poverty Rates, Join Us at our 50th Anniversary Celebration and More!

A Message from Dr. Melissa Merrick 

There has been a lot of discussion over the past couple of weeks on new child poverty data that show drastic and steady declines. In a New York Times piece citing the US Census Bureau and the Center on Poverty and Social Policy at Columbia University, the publication stated:

A comprehensive new analysis shows that child poverty has fallen 59 percent since 1993, with need receding on nearly every front. Child poverty has fallen in every state, and it has fallen by about the same degree among children who are white, Black, Hispanic and Asian, living with one parent or two, and in native or immigrant households. 

This is undoubtably good news. Reports like this provide much-needed hope and optimism that we can be successful in combatting childhood poverty, if we stay focused on the supports and mechanisms that have contributed to the decline. And more than 50 years after the war on poverty was declared, it’s reassuring to be seeing such results.

Right now, Congress has an opportunity to help American families create greater economic mobility by passing the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022.

This newly introduced bill, a tribute to the late home visiting advocate, Representative Jackie Walorski, reauthorizes the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) for five years, increases the annual funding level to $800 million by 2027 and provides increased investment in home visiting in every state and territory.

We challenge Congress to not miss this opportunity to help more children and families in need.

Read the full statement here.

MIECHV Reauthorization Takes Big Step Forward!

We are excited to share that this past week the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee unanimously voted to advance the Jackie Walorski Maternal and Child Home Visiting Reauthorization Act of 2022. This success is due to the advocacy efforts of many local, state, and national organizations throughout this past year! Thank you! Now we need to keep the momentum going and see this bill across the finish line. Please continue to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to support this legislation and make MIECHV reauthorization a priority.

Celebrating 50 Years of Progress

Join us for a special evening celebrating 50 years of supporting children and families. Enjoy food, music, a silent auction, and most importantly, learn about how we are preventing child abuse and neglect – and how you can get involved.

National Diaper Awareness Week

One in three U.S. families experience diaper need, and babies without clean diapers are exposed to more potential health risks & less likely to be accepted to daycares, leaving parents unable to attend work. During this week’s National Diaper Awareness Week, we encourage you to support the National Diaper Bank Network.

PCA America 2022 Election Guide

The 2022 midterm elections will be held Tuesday, November 8. Elections present an opportunity to promote child abuse and neglect prevention policies and strategies and to make investments to support these vital initiatives.During this midterm election year, control of both chambers of Congress and dozens of governorships and state offices will be decided. These include all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Thirty-nine state and territorial gubernatorial and numerous other state and local elections will also be contested. This will be the first election affected by the redistricting that will follow the 2020 census.  By voting, organizing in our communities, and having conversations with loved ones, we can come together to speak out in favor of the country we want to live in. Let us continue supporting fair policies and programs that enable every child, family, and community to thrive today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.

You can find the Election guide here.

Mini-Grant Opportunity! Building Positive Fatherhood Engagement through Community Support

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK), in partnership with The Cralle Foundation, Inc., will award eight agencies or organizations funds (up to $500) to conduct an event focused on promoting positive father engagement. These events should provide resources/activities directly to dads and their children. Applicants may choose to propose in person or virtual events. Organizations serving communities within the Cralle Foundation service area will be considered for funding.  The Cralle Foundation service area includes: Bullitt, Hardin, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer, and Trimble.

Applications are due by October 12, 2022 at 5:00 PM EST.

Email Amanda Royer with questions!

Submit your application here!   

PCAK is hiring! Join our team in the Resource Development Coordinator role!

Use your skills to move a state-wide child abuse prevention agency’s mission forward. We need your support in organizing special events, securing sponsorships, expanding our funding base, and developing sustainable relationships with our supporters. If you feel comfortable approaching people you don’t know, like to forge new paths, like to speak in public, and love Excel, this may be the job for you.

If you understand the importance of securing funds, goods, and services for a non-profit organization, consider joining our team! Networking and meeting new people is a big part of this job, so you will have the opportunity to have every day be different. Use your time and talents to support all facets of our fundraising including special events, securing sponsorships, managing donor relations, networking with diverse groups, associations and more.

Job Posting
Hiring Notice 
View this job on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/3286924974/
View this job on the Kentucky Nonprofit Network: https://tinyurl.com/ResourceDev

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Receives Community Awareness Award

PCAK was one of 34 winners from 105 nominees

LEXINGTON, KY. — Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK) received a Community Awareness award for its 2021 child sexual abuse prevention campaign, titled “Are They Good For Your Kids?” The campaign, funded by the Child Victim’s Trust Fund, has received more than 2 million impressions across all platforms.

“We are dedicated to improving lives and outcomes for Kentucky kids,” said PCAK Executive Director, Jill Seyfred” This campaign has allowed us to share research-backed approaches to doing just that.”

This award is part of the Adsposure Transit Awards as a way to recognize the efforts of marketing teams across the country who have worked to create stand-out ads in the categories of Biggest Impact, Creativity, Community Awareness, and Eye-Level. 

“Our community of partners and advertisers really ran with these new awards, as one more way to showcase the great work they are doing, and to keep these awesome campaigns alive a little longer,” Alex Souders, Adsposure Director of Marketing, said. “It just shows how much appreciation people have for this medium, how it gives back to the community and what it feels like to see your campaigns on the road every day. It’s definitely been a success having these awards, and the ability to recognize these local, regional, and national businesses on the same stage.”

To see all of the nominees, visit adsposure.com/2021-transit-awards. You can find more information about Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky at pcaky.org.

Child Sex Abuse is a Problem in KY, Nation. Using it as a Political Ploy is Disgusting.

Child sex abuse is a problem in Ky, nation. Using it as a political ploy is disgusting.

BY LINDA BLACKFORD UPDATED APRIL 08, 2022 10:25 AM

If you vote for Ketanji Brown Jackson, you’re “pro-pedophile,” according to QAnon darling Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene, and if you talk about acceptance in Estill County, you’re a groomer, according to my twitter feed.

That’s what it seemed like this week, in Kentucky, in Florida, all around the country. “Pedophile” and “child abuser” are the latest insults du jour. The Washington Post did an entire story about, and I’m not kidding on this, “groomer rhetoric.”

This is, of course, disgusting, and should be the latest and most important reason for decent Republicans to rise up against their right wing. There could be nothing more horrifically cynical than taking one of the most heinous crimes on the planet and politicizing it with lies to win support and votes.

Most awful is the fact that child sexual abuse is a real and terrible problem here in Kentucky and elsewhere. But it’s not at Democratic Party headquarters or the Estill County music department. It’s at your family reunion or vacation bible school, hidden away in shame and secrecy.

“These are offensive political maneuvers,” said Terry Brooks, director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “To politicize child abuse should shock our moral compass and should render those people unqualified for office. I get politics, but this is outrageous.”

These political battles conflate gender identity and sexuality with child sex abuse, making it harder to pinpoint how the problem needs to be solved. Advocates say the vast majority of child sex abuse perpetrators are “heterosexual,” most of them adult men abusing little girls. Abuse occurs everywhere, across socioeconomic levels, religion, race. Political affiliation has nothing to do with it either.

APRIL IS CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH

In one of those bizarre twists of life, it just so happens that all these political maneuvers and made up scandals are happening in April, which is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so a lot of advocates are out and about to talk about the real and serious issues.

Such as: One in four girls and one in 14 boys will experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood; and 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser. Last year, Kentucky reported 1,853 substantiated cases of child sex abuse, which represents 8 percent of all abuse and neglect cases.

It’s not a teacher with rainbow flags in the classroom and it’s not a teacher hosting a group of kids, “it’s the teacher or coach who invites one child to a BBQ after school,” said Winn Stephens, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass, which provides a full spectrum of victim services, from physical exams to counseling to advocates through the court system. “It’s the coach or the church pastor or the uncle, mom’s boyfriends, step grandparents — the people who are grooming and doing this crime are not strangers.”

Someone’s sexuality does not make them more likely to abuse, Stephens said. The the vast majority of cases he sees are what we would describe as heterosexual men abusing little girls or women abusing little boys. About 65 percent of the center’s clients are girls.

Kentucky ranks somewhere near the top of national rankings for child abuse, although advocates are wary of these rankings because they compare different things and because it might be caused by some of Kentucky’s progress in the area. For example, Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state for everyone, which means every single person is required to report suspicions of abuse and neglect, not just teachers and policemen. (The reporting line is 1-877-KYSAFE1.) In addition, Lexington’s first Child Advocacy Center, started by former Commonwealth’s Attorney Ray Larson and the current Commonwealth’s Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn back in the 1990s have been established in the state’s 15 area development districts.

DARKNESS INTO LIGHT

On Wednesday, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky started a new campaign called “Safety and Awareness for Every BODY,” aimed at getting communities to recognize and talk about child sexual abuse.

“We know people want to prevent child sex abuse,” said Jill Seyfred, the group’s executive director. “We also know that no one wants to talk about it.”

Shame and stigma means children are ignored and adults stay silent. “We can’t make kids responsible for their own safety,” said Janna Estep Jordan, director of operations. “We have to talk about it in the open.”

That means talking about correct body parts and being honest and open with kids so they understand the potential dangers. Angela Bailey, director of development for the Bluegrass Children’s Advocacy Center who is herself a survivor of child sex abuse, says that’s what she would like to see above all else. “For me it starts at home, with talking to your kids and making sure they’re comfortable with saying no and their own bodies,” she said. “How many times did people say go hug Uncle So and So? Those little simple things that we do with kids send them messages that they’re not allowed to say no.

In a recent editorial, Bailey wrote about how she taught her kids to use the proper names for body parts because she didn’t want them to feel shame about their bodies. “That is not grooming or sexualizing children, it’s about making all children feel comfortable with their bodies.

She also wants people to know that if something happens, it’s imperative to get help. Her abuser had many victims, she said, and one of the others was one of her cousins. Unlike Bailey, her cousin did not ever get treatment or counseling and her life was one of chaos and crisis, one she did not survive.

“We talk about the financial costs of untreated child sexual abuse, but the human toll is much greater,” Bailey said.

There will also be a toll to conflating the politics of gender identity with this grave problem.

‘I makes me very sad,” she said. “Gender identity and pedophilia are not the same things — empowering people to not be ashamed of who they are is not the same thing as hurting a child.”

The child abuse reporting hotline is 1-877-KYSAFE1. On Monday, April 11, the Children’s Advocacy Center of the Bluegrass will hold a pinwheel planting to raise awareness of child sex abuse at their office at 162 N. Ashland Ave., Lexington, KY 40502 at 10:30 a.m.. Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky will hold a similar event on the front lawn of the Capitol in Frankfort on Monday at 10 a.m. with Gov. Andy Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear.

This story was originally published April 7, 2022 2:14 PM.

LINDA BLACKFORD (859) 231-1359 Linda Blackford writes columns and commentary for the Herald-Leader. She has covered K-12, higher education and other topics for the past 20 years at the Herald-Leader.

Child Victim’s Trust Fund Provides Funding to Launch Statewide

You’ve heard it said, “it takes a whole community to raise a child?” Well, it takes a whole community to keep them safe!  Recently, PCAK had the privilege of recording an educational video to empower adults to have uncomfortable conversations with other adults on child sexual abuse prevention. While we know children should NEVER be made responsible for their own safety, research tells us when parents and caregivers talk openly about body safety with their children, it strengthens the family and lessens risk of sexual abuse. The “Safety and Awareness for Every BODY” campaign launched April 6th with a variety of tools for individuals, families and communities.  New tools include the Safety and Awareness for Every BODY educational video, corresponding tip sheet, and new online training! 

Here are ways you can become involved and make a direct impact in your community: 

  • Watch the “Safety and Awareness for Every BODY” video! Share this video with your spheres of influence.
  • Promote this campaign on social media. Visit any Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky social media page (why not visit and share on all sites) and share this information with your followers. Use #SafetyAwarenessEveryBODY. 
  • Order or download the “Safety and Awareness for Every BODY” tip sheet! It’s never too early or too late to start this conversation with your kids or empower the parents and caregivers you work with to start these conversations.
  • Include this information in your organizations Newsletter! Forward this information to colleagues. Let us do the work for you. Contact pcaky@pcaky.org and we will draft the newsletter for you.
  • Take time to watch the New online training “Raising Safe, Smart, & Healthy Children: Addressing Healthy Child Development as a Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.” Find out how healthy child sexual development strengthens families & lessens the risk of child sexual abuse. Learn more here! This training can be taken at any time, 24/7. Participants who complete the evaluation will receive a general certificate of completion. Family Resource and Youth Service Center training credits are available and Social Work CEU’s.
  • Promote the “Raising Safe, Smart, & Healthy Children: Addressing Healthy Child Development as a Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse” training with your networks. If you are an employer or supervisor allow your staff time to complete this training. Watch this training as a staff and discuss ways to implement child sexual abuse prevention education in your work with families and children. 
  • Contact us! We are excited you want to be involved and would love to hear your ideas on promoting this content in your community. 

Read more about the Child Victims’ Trust Fund

This publication/program is funded in part by the Child Victims’ Trust Fund.
This project is funded in part or in whole with state or federal funds through a contract (#PON2 736 2000003480) with the KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

Prevent Child Abuse America and Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Respond to New Report on Systemic Abuse in Sports Perpetrated by Larry Nassar

As the world’s elite athletes prepare for the Winter Olympics to commence this Friday in Beijing, a new, independent report prepared by the Game Over Commission to Protect Child Athletes and CHILD USA makes a clear call for changes in the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, from the top down.

The report – “I believe competitive gymnastics and other elite sports break children.” A Case-Study of Systemic Abuse in Sports Perpetrated by Larry Nassar – includes important findings that identify a systemic failure across youth-serving organizations, including sports institutions, and recommendations for changing the power dynamic baked into such institutions that facilitated Nassar’s crimes. And notably, it includes action items for lawmakers, athletic organizations and medical licensing boards to address these systemic gaps and breakdowns that have continuously allowed abusers to harm children.

All of this is a step in the right direction. With this report, lawmakers, leaders and organizations now have action plans in hand to help them protect children and young adults who are chasing their dreams.

No child should ever experience the horrific atrocities shared by the 500 young athletes Larry Nassar victimized and abused over his far too many years in power. From Larry Nassar to Jerry Sandusky at Penn State University, and from Richard Strauss at Ohio State University to Robert Anderson at the University of Michigan – which just announced a $490 million settlement to his more than 1,000 victims – unfortunately, these devastating situations are not unique. We must do better.

We work hard every day to advocate for and support “upstream” policies and programs that prevent child abuse before it happens, including within youth-serving organizations.

Prevention of child sexual abuse is possible when communities, and the adults in those communities, take bold action to create safe environments for children. The recommendations in this report, if followed, will make great progress in proactively stopping sexual, physical, mental, and emotional abuses before they can begin.


NEW! Mini Grant Opportunity

Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky has just released a new mini grant opportunity! In partnership with the Berea College Appalachian Fund, seven entities in the Appalachian region will be awarded materials related to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Recipients will be trained on how to effectively use these materials in their communities to keep kids safe. For more details, please see the below application. If you have any questions, contact Sara Early Jenkins at searlyjenkins@pcaky.org.

Children Helped By SEC Neighbors

PCAK, Lotus, Kentucky DCBS Aid Western Kentucky Families through Geaux Bag Delivery

On January 5, 2022, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky (PCAK), delivered 200 Geaux Bags to Lotus Children’s Advocacy & Sexual Violence Resource Center in Paducah, Kentucky.  PCAK facilitated this donation via the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services, whose representatives traveled from Baton Rouge to personally deliver the bags. The Geaux bags will be distributed to children impacted by the December 10, 2021 tornado that devasted the Western Kentucky area.

The Geaux Bags, generally used in Louisiana for a child’s first night in foster care, include many necessary supplies for children, including a pillow, blanket, personal care items, and an age-appropriate toy.  Lotus and the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) will distribute the bags and other resources, including essential supplies, coping tools, and information about traumatic stress, to various area donation distribution zones and through direct deliveries to children and families.

“We are so grateful to our friends in Louisiana for reaching out with their offer of assistance, and for their personally making the trip to deliver the Geaux bags. Our spirit of partnership spans across state lines, and we know this donation will make a difference in the lives of children who have been uprooted because of the tornado in Western Kentucky,” said Jill Seyfred, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky.

“Our community and statewide partnerships have played a key role in our efforts to address the needs of survivors, children, and families in our region impacted by the tornado,” said Lori Wells Brown, Executive Director of Lotus. “We are grateful to PCAK and the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services for coordinating this donation, and to the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services, for their partnership in supporting impacted survivors, children, and families in building resilience as our communities continue recovery efforts.”

Founded in 1987, Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky is the leading statewide child abuse prevention organization.  They are the Kentucky chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America and offer statewide programs and services.

Lotus is Kentucky’s designated Children’s Advocacy and Sexual Violence Resource Center for the Purchase Region.  Lotus’s mission is to support survivors, strengthen families, and empower communities.  Committed to ending child abuse and sexual violence, Lotus works to cultivate safe, equitable, just communities where all persons thrive.

The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services provides services and programs to enhance the self-sufficiency of families; improve safety and permanency for children and vulnerable adults; and engage families and community partners in a collaborative decision-making process.

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To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, visit www.pcaky.org.

To learn more about Lotus Children’s Advocacy and Sexual Violence Resource Center, visit www.hopehealgrow.org.

To learn more about the Kentucky Department for Community Based Services, visit https://chfs.ky.gov/agencies/dcbs/Pages/default.aspx.

Our Top Ten Mission Moments of 2021

As we reflect back on 2021 and celebrate our accomplishments, our hearts are heavy as we continue, as a united Commonwealth, to lift our Western KY neighbors up with our prayers, donations and volunteer time. We thank you for your commitment to all Kentucky’s children, youth and families.

10. It’s hard to hire people during a pandemic. But, we are so pleased to welcome Amanda Royer (left) and Sara Early Jenkins (right) to our team. Amanda is our Manager of Partner Relations and Sara is our Programs and Trainings Coordinator. They started their tenure with us in October and hit the floor running.

9. Partnering with UofL to create surveys which will provide us with valuable data on our partners’ primary prevention and fatherhood activities, as well as a summary of how they are faring as a result of COVID.

8. Our work was nationally recognized when our staff was chosen to present four different workshops to national audiences. We are a small, but mighty staff who have trained thousands of people, and have a wealth of expertise in a wide array of topics. We’re so proud of our staff members!

7. Offering five trainings during Child Abuse Prevention Month that attracted 770 participants. Trainings were offered free-of-charge, thanks to our sponsor, WellCare.

6. Becoming an accredited No HIT Zone agency, and training 25 partners on how they can become No HIT Zones. We also provided technical assistance to another state who is looking to replicate our efforts.

5. Positive fatherhood engagement is critical to the overall success and well-being of a child. We are thrilled we received three grants to promote our work in this area. Thanks to Traditional Bank, American Electric Power and the Cralle Foundation for their support.

4. Even though we were (are?) in the throes of a pandemic, the breadth of participation we received for our Child Abuse Prevention Month activities was phenomenal. We distributed more than 40,000 pinwheels and almost 70,000 pieces of information. More than 60 groups participated in our Wear Blue Day efforts, and our website saw an increase of 36% in hits for the month.

3. We held our 2nd virtual Kids Are Worth It!® Conference in September, and again, drew more than 400 participants. Even more important, 97% of respondents to the conference survey said they learned of a new resource which will help them prevent child abuse and neglect.

2. Hosting KY’s inaugural Neglect Summit in August. The invitation-only event was well-received and featured national speakers, time for state discussion and action-planning. We held a follow-up planning session in December and are poised to mobilize on this important topic.

1. Launching our “Are They Good For Your Kids” campaign in April, thanks to a $26,600 grant from the Child Victim’s Trust Fund. The Campaign featured a kick-off with the Attorney General, and extensive media coverage. To date, the campaign has had almost 3,000,000 impressions.

For resources to support those affected by storms in Western Kentucky, click here. To donate to Prevent Child Kentucky, click here.

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