What does the KidSafe Collaborative do?
KidSafe works to improve our community-wide response to child abuse and neglect.
The group works at both the local family level and the community and statewide policy level.
What exactly does KidSafe do to prevent and address child maltreatment?
At the core of KidSafe’s work are two community level Child Protection Teams.
KidSafe’s Child Protection and Family Support Team:
- brings together the people who can help a family in crisis;
- creates an action plan specific to the family, to improve child safety;
- ensures key supports are in place and well-coordinated for parents who are under severe stress due to issues such as substance abuse, mental illness, domestic violence, homelessness, and other significant challenges – usually in combination;
- is convened and led by KidSafe, drawing on the skills of partner agencies including Lund, the Howard Center, the Visiting Nurse Association, DCF and many others;
- is tailored to each family’s needs, and might include a teacher, pediatrician, social worker, visiting nurse, substance abuse counselor, child care provider, etc.
KidSafe’s CHARM (Children and Recovering Mothers) Team:
- coordinates treatment and services for pregnant and post-partum women with a history of opiate dependence, and their infants;
- supports these mothers at a time when they are most motivated toward improved health for their babies and for themselves – a positive note amid Vermont’s opiates crisis;
- encourages mothers to access and maintain their substance abuse treatment, get good prenatal care, and in the end, be able to safely parent their newborns if possible;
- brings together a range of service providers including health care professionals from the University of Vermont Medical Center, the Vermont Department for Children and Families (DCF) and others.
In leading both of these teams, KidSafe Collaborative:
- serves as ‘neutral convener’ with no agenda other than improved child safety;
- makes sure everyone is communicating and providing services effectively;
- cuts through interagency red tape and prevents waste and duplication of effort, while ensuring that no child ‘falls through the cracks’.
What about DCF? Isn’t child protection their responsibility?
Yes and no. Vermont’s DCF, Family Services Division has a clear mandate to protect children but works within a relatively narrow set of definitions and procedures.
- KidSafe’s team model is often called upon in family situations that are complex and in which DCF may or may not have an “open case.”
- KidSafe believes it takes our entire community to help ensure child safety – and that includes a range of service agencies and individual and corporate supports.
What does KidSafe do on the policy level?
- KidSafe promotes systems change through the Chittenden Network for Children, Youth and Families, the Community Advisory Board, and the Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Committee, identifying issues and developing solutions.
- KidSafe convenes an annual legislative forum, and leads the community effort to address gaps in child protection through advocacy for legislative and policy change.
- KidSafe’s Executive Director Co-Chairs Vermont’s federally mandated Citizens Advisory Board to the VT Department for Children and Families.
Is KidSafe involved in the effort to report child abuse and neglect?
- KidSafe has trained thousands of the Vermonters who work most closely with children on how to recognize and report concerns about child maltreatment;
- With DCF Family Services, KidSafe created the first state-wide interactive online training for mandated reporters, launched in 2016 and has been used by 20,000 of online learners.
Are there any other organizations doing the work that KidSafe does?
KidSafe is the one Chittenden County community-based agency whose primary focus is the improved community response to and prevention of child abuse and neglect. We work closely with our partner agencies:
- Prevent Child Abuse VT, is a statewide organization which conducts prevention education on sexual abuse and abusive head trauma, and leads Nurturing Parent classes and Parents Together support groups throughout the state.
- Safe Kids Vermont is a statewide coalition led by the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital focusing on injury prevention including bike helmets, car seats and poison prevention.
- Child Safe Clinic, is the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital clinic serving children and families where child abuse/child sexual abuse are suspected or diagnosed.
How many children does KidSafe Collaborative help in a typical year?
KidSafe serves approximately 400 to 450 children and parents/caregivers per year -- in addition to the many Vermonters trained annually to report abuse and neglect.
How does that number compare to the scope of the problem?
In 2017, DCF accepted 929 cases for intervention in Chittenden County alone. That represents 38 classrooms filled with 24 children and youth – each.