Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Classes to be Offered in WaCo

Parenting can be stressful. Whether it is juggling multiple demands on a parent or caregivers time, or managing challenging behaviors, parenting occasionally can push us to our limits. In 2016 the State of Maine, under the Office of Child and Family Services, tracked 3,524 victims aged 0-17 of substantiated/ indicated abuse of a minor.   Out of that figure, 117 originated from within Washington County. Responding to the local goal of increasing the health and well-being of families, Sunrise Opportunities recently partnered with Maine Children’s Trust to bring a Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (CAN) Council to Washington County. This initiative will offer opportunities to educate parents, caregivers and loved ones regarding healthy and safe parenting skills, and by extension, reduce the potential for child abuse and neglect. 

The Washington County CAN Council is charged with being the county’s central coordinating organization responsible for planning, managing and implementing the necessary work to address and reduce child abuse and neglect.  Washington County CAN Council encompasses all of Washington County from the northern border in Danforth to the southern border in Steuben and all the outreaching areas in between.

“It is a program of which we are very proud.  Prevention is the key to reducing child abuse and neglect and we will be working with community partners to help ensure the children of Washington County are protected.  We will do this best by strengthening the families of Washington County,” stated Dixie Beaudoin, Director of the Council.  

Ms. Beaudoin went on to explain that there are five protective factors that help reduce stress related to parenting.  They are:  parental resilience, providing social connections, providing parents with concrete support in times of need, facilitating knowledge of parenting and child development and supporting healthy social and emotional development in young children.  “We know that there are many different ways to do this and we have been working with Maine Children’s Trust to explore some options for us here in Washington County,” she added.

One of the first moves of the council was to hire Barbara Koch as an educator.  “Many people in Washington County know Barb and admire the work she has done with children.  She has been working with special needs children for multiple years, is a  foster parent and teaches classes at UMM, among other things.  She is an inspiration and brings with her multiple layers of understanding and knowledge around children and families.  Barb has been working hard traveling to Augusta to become qualified to provide several important trainings in Washington County,” expressed Ms. Beaudoin.  

Recently, the council hired Mandie Pepperman as the Community Coordinator. Mandie graduated from the University of Maine at Machias with a degree in Psychology and Community Studies. Mandie has worked in Washington County as a case manager and BHP. Her career has focused on strengthening families through accessing local resources, engaging with community agencies, and creating individual family goals. 

Washington County CAN council is prepared to start by offering classes in the following areas:  Strengthening Maine Families, Infant Safe Sleep, Period of Purple Crying, Mandated Reporting, Nurturing Parenting:  Families in Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery, Active Parenting and Nurturing Fathers.

Any member of the community is encouraged to take any of the free offered courses. Training duration is variable, and group size is flexible depending on the need. Trainings can be provided on-site or at our designated locations. The Council is also seeking members to serve as part of the Advisory Board. If you, or someone you know, is interested in being part of this worthwhile project on the Board, or to hear more about the training opportunities, please call Dixie Beaudoin at (207) 255-4156.