Programs help reinforce healthy parenting, address child abuse - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Programs help reinforce healthy parenting, address child abuse

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 MADISON (WKOW) -- High profile acts of what authorities say was extreme child abuse in Janesville, Milwaukee and Eau Claire over the extended, holiday weekend, are a reminder of the importance of effective, child abuse prevention programs.

On Madison's north side, the Center for Families plays a significant role in that prevention through its advocacy for at-risk families.

Officials of the non-profit organization say the Center's Respite Center program alone, serves four hundred families and seven hundred children annually.

"We try to give parents who are under a lot of stress a chance to get that break," social worker Fay McClurg says.

McClurg says the Respite Center provides a safe, structured space for children, as their parents look for jobs, housing, transportation, get medical help and attend to other needs.

McClurg says parents of at-risk families sometimes battle feelings of being alone with their challenges.

"Parents could be feeling very isolated because they're brand new parents, or very young, new parents, and they don't really know how to get the help that they need," McClurg says.

Heather Wittwer is a family support specialist with the Center's Welcome Baby program, which assists mothers and families, from pre-natal periods to age three. 

"Our main goal is to reduce isolation because one of the contributing factors of child abuse is isolation," Wittwer says.

One of Wittwer's clients, L:inzi Kaat of Fitchburg says she's learned to be more realistic about her one year old daughter Jerzi's development through Wittwer's guidance. "To help us not to get stressed out over, 'she's not meeting this milestone,' " Kaat says.

Program officials says parent education, respite and other services are reinforcing healthy child-rearing for at-risk families.

McClurg also says awareness of child abuse continues to grow in the community, leading to more reporting of child abuse, including more self-reporting.

The Respite Center has no income limits, and services are on a sliding scale, ability-to-pay basis. The center is also 24/7 with staff and facility to provide even overnight stays for children in emergency situations.

Center services can be accessed at 608-244-5700.

 

 

 

 

 

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