Yesterday, we bought some dirt and got busy doing our yearly April planting. No, we weren’t putting out begonias or petunias. We were planting pinwheels.

Every April, Children’s Trust of South Carolina (CTSC) delivers metallic blue pinwheels to all its partnering agencies. We plant ours in flower pots and place them on our front steps. Every day in April, pinwheels all over the state are spinning in the breeze to raise awareness for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Lighthouse Ministries may not be the first agency you think of when you think about child abuse prevention, but the reality is we offer two programs specifically targeted for this issue.

Our Working Mothers Education and Support Program began as a child abuse prevention program, funded by Children’s Trust of South Carolina. In the ten years that we have been doing this program, it’s become known in the community as “the diaper program” because of the main incentive for participation: free diapers for six months. Though this is an amazing bonus, the program is so much more. Mothers of children ages 0-5 work together in small cohorts led by a Licensed Master Social Worker. The mothers learn strategies for stress management, behavior redirection, and even ways to handle financial difficulties. In exit surveys, almost all mothers say that they enrolled in the program for the diapers but got the most value out of the parenting classes. Many of the mothers have shared that the program helped them understand appropriate discipline techniques, techniques that may be very different from ones they themselves experienced as children.

This past September, Lighthouse Ministries and Children’s Trust of South Carolina teamed up yet again for another amazing program: The Strengthening Families Program. Instead of just working with mothers, the Strengthening Families Program works with the entire family. This program is open to families with one or more children between the ages of 6-11. Families participating in this program meet once a week for 14 weeks. They focus on building skills that may assist them in improving child/parent relationships, prevent behavior problems, and manage stress better.  Though the program is open to all families, Lighthouse Ministries has specifically targeted low-income families for participation since they are not as likely to have access to resources such as family counseling or mediation.  The program leaders have all been through facilitator trainings and work closely with representatives from Children’s Trust of South Carolina to make sure that the program is implemented with the utmost integrity. After being told we had the best first run they’ve seen, we are confident that this partnership with Children’s Trust will be a long-running one. Lighthouse Ministries is currently working with its second group of families. We are excited about the many more to come.

In addition to the two programs that specifically target the prevention of child abuse, we strive every day to positively impact families and help to lessen stress and anxiety within the family unit. By helping prevent evictions and utility disconnections, we are able to keep families safely housed together. Our skilled interviewers are also trained to listen closely to our participants’ stories so that they can further connect them to resources in our community that can lead them down a safe and productive path.

This month, we encourage you to educate yourself on Child Abuse in our community. There are a few great local agencies that you can follow to learn more about what child abuse looks like, how to prevent it, and how to report it if you suspect it.

 

For more information, check out:

Working Mothers Education & Support Program

Strengthening Families Program

Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Child Abuse and Neglect Data for SC

The CARE House of the Pee Dee