April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Just look at this picture…Who doesn’t love babies? OR that glowing new mama with a dreamy spark in her eyes as she imagines all the possibilities this new little life will have. Oh to cuddle and breathe in that baby smell! The intoxication yummy smell of a newborn… It is like heaven on earth.
What I really want to draw your attention to: after all the celebrating and newness of life wears off and the everyday life trials and tribulations wear on. When the visitors, well-wishers and advice givers stop coming around. When the laundry backs up, the kitchen is a mess and mom hopes she will be able to just take a shower today? Or how about all the other things that try to draw your attention away from that beautiful child, like relationships, car repairs, bills, and the overdue bills. I know the frustrations that can occur when you are a parent. Where can a new parent, grandparent, caregiver turn to when they need help?
As a doctor I have a responsibility to report suspected abuse or neglect but, I first want to promote positive parenting and be a helpful resource of information. I know that giving a child your love, care and attention along with a sense of self-worth is one of the greatest investment you will ever make. Joining together with neighbors, businesses, schools, friends, and families we can make a difference…Promote healthy families, preventing abuse from happening in the first place to keep our children safe.
Last weekend I attended (in the cheering section) the 3rd annual Hilo Kickball Tournament sponsored by HawaiiPARENTS.org. The goal of this family friendly fun fund raiser is to “kick child abuse out of Hawaii”. While this was tons of fun it was a painful reminder of how little I know about parents resources in my area. When I was younger, we had taken in foster children and were available 24 hours a day if a short term emergency placement were needed. I knew so many places a family could turn to for all kinds of help. I figure I should know what is available on the Big Island for families and children in need. So I decided to do a little research. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg but, …
Here are a few resources I found:
- The Food Basket of Hawaii is a great resource. Da Bus is a mobile food pantry that also helps our islands seniors as well as families in need. Da Box supplies yummy in season Hawaii Island grown fruits and vegetables that also supports local farmers. They also have a “keiki backpack” program providing nutritional supplements to elementary children in schools that have a high number of free/reduced lunches. While the Food Basket has federal programs, like those to aid the elderly, many food pantry items are donated and supported by volunteers.
- HawaiiPARENTS has classes open to the public and teach all things parent. From child development, nutrition, ways to reduce power struggles, chore charts and overall how to build healthy child self-esteem. They also provide lessons on budgeting and time management, ways to cope with stress and anger, blended family issues, LGBTQI2 parenting, sexual development and gender identity, bullying and society issues. I’m amazed at how many learning opportunities were in this one place!
- PATCH or People attentive to children, have an amazing site full of resources. One link that caught my attention is geared towards finding the right child care. This was one of my most dreaded chores when my children were young. If you have to work or are going to school it is nice to have this resource. They even offer info if you are struggling to pay for child care.
- Family Programs If you are having trouble coping with a child behavior or unsure how to handle all the things that come your way in everyday life and still be a good parent, you can find help with voluntary case management. Their aim is to keep children from entering and staying in foster care till they “age out” or are adults.
- Hawaii State Health Department has a huge directory listing hundreds of resources, not just children type services. If you need help with breast feeding, the La Leche League is listed. There are contacts for legal aid, domestic abuse, shelter and crisis centers. Contacts to find help with respite care and for children with special needs.
- Women, Infants and Children (WIC), a federal program helping to teach and meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women and young children. This program can also provide special dietary needs formulas ordered by a doctor.
- Counseling services may be just what the doctor ordered. This is a very broad subject, but sometimes you need a third party to objectively sort through and deal with whatever life throws at you. Legal issues can cause you to lose focus on the real important things in everyday family life. Volunteer legal services of Hawaii can shed light on issues ranging from child custody issues to bankruptcy. Depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction, parenting and child behavior issues can majorly impact a family and there are free and low cost counseling available.