BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Commissioners proclaimed April as Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month on Thursday morning.
The Partners in Prevention Proclamation states, “Whereas, during child abuse and neglect prevention month, it is important to talk about what each and every one of us can do to make sure that children in our community grow up healthy, safe, and loved. Whereas, this month, it is important that every member of our community consider what they can do to improve our collective well-being which can be achieved by volunteering, making donations, or advocating for family-friendly policies and programs—everyone can take their turn making a difference.”
Director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network (FRN) and team leader for Upshur County Partners in Prevention, Lori Ulderich Harvey, stated “Our children suffered more than we probably think over the last year.” Due to the pandemic, kids have not been in school, and she mentioned parents have not been able to take breaks and vent over coffee with friends. “We’ve been kind of isolated,” Harvey observed.
She explained that they have been focusing on the five protective factors, which are parental resilience, social connections, concrete supports, knowledge of parenting and child development, and social and emotional competence of children. In Harvey’s opinion, it is time to “ramp up” on these factors and support parents now, more than ever.
According to Harvey, recent research exhibits a link between healthy childhood development and effective parenting. “Most parents can make it through difficult times, but they do need help,” Harvey stated. In effort to coincide with this research, the Upshur County Senior Center and FRN have been working on the “Healthy Grandfamilies” program since 2019. Although COVID-19 prevented the project from taking off previously, they are back at in 2021.
Harvey expressed gratitude for the generous donation of the pavilion near Buckhannon-Upshur High School on Tuesdays for their Healthy Grandfamilies meetings. She stated, “We are excited to announce that our first group will be in person (and possibly online) from June to August of this year. It is a 10-week program that will be held on Tuesdays. We are currently working out the details on childcare, etc., so there may be a few questions I do not yet have clear answers for until our group meets again.”
Harvey wanted to be clear that they simply want people to learn and grow. They want to assist them with things like navigating the legal system, school system, substance abuse, nutrition, etc. The goal is not to manage the grandparents or “check” on them, but rather to help educate them and provide resources when needed. Harvey used the example of vape pens to illustrate that many grandparents and even great-grandparents raising children are unaware of the various things kids are interested in today. “Grandparents and great-grandparents that are raising their grandchildren are still looking for the cigarette pack and weed in the bag,” she explained. The Healthy Grandfamilies program will hopefully assist them with issues such as these.
According to Harvey, it is a great program that will allow grandparents to sit down and simply have conversations that will benefit everyone. Childcare and food will also be available. Visit the Courthouse to view the pinwheels and flag hanging that states, “All Children Deserve Great Childhoods.”