Several important speakers made their way to the Dakota County Connections meeting April 12 to bring to light a critical issue– child abuse prevention.
Nebraska's First Lady Susanne Shore, Associate Commissioner for the Federal Children's Bureau Jerry Milner and State Senator Joni Albrecht, in addition to several local community leaders, all spoke at the meeting about why child abuse prevention often doesn't get the attention it necessitates.
“Prevention is not splashy and it takes time to put into place,” said Shore.
She noted that a good prevention program takes longer to assemble than the time span of most political terms, which is why the task needs to taken on locally.
“The only people who can make Dakota County the focus is Dakota County,” she added, calling Dakota County a “role model,” pointing out decreased teen birth rates and juvenile arrests and an increase in third grade reading proficiency within the last several years.
Milner discussed what his viewpoint from a national scale.
“We have to go to the reasons children sleep in anyone's bed other than their own,” he said.
He said that 90 percent of the Federal Children's Bureau budget goes into foster care and adoption assistance while just a tiny portion is dedicated to child abuse prevention.
“We have to change that,” he said. “We have to have a balance. It just seems to feel better to put money into saving kids instead of investing in families that are their best hope.”
Albrecht summed up the sentiment of the meeting with a simple statement.
“Strong homes and families make our communities better.”
The meeting was organized by Dakota County Connections, a collaboration of individuals that represent about 250 various organization and agencies in the community that serve area children and their families.