Child advocates and the general public will be encouraged to “Picture a Brighter Future for Oklahoma Children” at the annual Child Abuse Prevention Day Mini Conference, by building blue ribbon trees for kids, and by doing the new Coloring Challenge activities, as part of CAP Month in April. This observance is more urgent this year because the latest statistics from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) indicate child abuse and neglect confirmations in Oklahoma are continuing to rise. In fiscal year 2014, there were 14,159 children that suffered from child abuse and neglect, which is an increase from the 11,418 cases confirmed in state fiscal year 2013.

 

During CAP Month and throughout the year, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making each community and the state overall a better place for children and families. OSDH and partner organizations across the state ensure that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children. OSDH and community partners can help promote programs that benefit the social and emotional well-being of children and prevent child abuse and neglect within families and communities.

 

Research shows that when parents possess six protective factors, the risk for neglect and abuse diminish. The protective factors that can work together to improve the outcomes for children, youth, and families are:

 

1. Nurturing and attachment

 

2. Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development

 

3. Parental resilience

 

4. Social connections

 

5. Concrete supports for parents

 

6. Social and emotional developmental well-being

 

“April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children,” said Sherie Trice, OSDH community-based child abuse prevention grant coordinator. “Everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to build and promote these protective factors, in every interaction with children and families, is the best thing each individual and community can do to prevent child abuse and neglect and promote positive child development.”

 

The OSDH encourages everyone to get involved with local activities related to Child Abuse Prevention Month using the theme “It’s Your Turn – Picture a Brighter Future for Children,” including the following:

 

• Visit the new website sponsored by Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and directed by the CAP ACTION Committee, www.BrighterFutureforKids.com which provides details on all of the events of April.

 

• Encourage everyone you know (families and groups with children) to take the Coloring Challenge, drawing pictures of their “happiest day” and sharing it on social media. Pictures can be uploaded to Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #PictureaBrighterFuture. Complete instructions available at this link: http://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/Coloring%20Challenge%20Instructions%20NEW.pdf. We are seeking to accomplish a goal of 1,000 HAPPY PICTURES by April 1st for the Coloring Challenge.

 

• Attend the Awards Ceremony for Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention programs and volunteers on Tuesday, April 14 at the Oklahoma State Capitol Blue Room at 11:30 a.m. DHS Director Ed Lake, OKDHS, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies presenting awards to an outstanding Legislator, an outstanding Program and outstanding Individuals both for community and statewide child abuse prevention work and activities.

 

• Attend the fifth annual CAP Day Mini Conference held at the Samis Education Center in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, April 14th beginning at 12:30 p.m. While space is limited, the afternoon sessions will include free workshops open to the public who pre-register. There will be a variety of topics presented by speakers with expertise in child abuse prevention. To reserve a space for the conference, visit

http://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/calendar/calendar.php?calendar_seq=32 or contact Sherie Trice at sheriet@health.ok.gov or (405) 271-7611.

 

• Buy a CAP specialty license plate. Applications for the specialty license tag called Start Right are available at your local tag agency. Money will go into the child abuse prevention fund to support prevention programs across the state.

 

• Participate in “Build a Blue Ribbon Tree for Kids.” Find a highly visible spot to place your blue ribbon tree and add a blue ribbon for the number of children abused and neglected in your county; or the number of new babies born in your community; or to represent something that shows your support for children.

 

• Call your local library to see what materials are available for parents and childcare professionals to use to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to learn good parenting skills.

 

• Get involved in Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer efforts to assist children through the legal system. Learn more by visiting this link: http://www.oklahomacasa.org/Volunteering.html.

 

• Get involved with Prevent Child Abuse Oklahoma by calling Parent Promise at (405) 232-2500.

 

• Volunteer to serve on the statewide CAP ACTION Committee and help plan future activities.

 

For general information about CAP Month activities, to request posters for your community, and to discover ways to get involved, call the county health department in your area or contact Sherie Trice at (405) 271-761