Raising children is complicated. They don’t come with instructions. Full-time parents and caretakers juggle so many tasks from feeding, to playtime, to bath time, and everything in-between. It gets even more challenging for families who can't provide basic necessities to engage in these bonding opportunities. Those who worry more about not having food, clothing, housing, and transportation for their family members have less time and energy to devote to their children.
Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee strives to create safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments for children. The foundation of a healthy family is safety, and having unmet basic needs can put children at risk for unintended harm. Once parents have created a strong foundation, they can begin to build the structure of a nurturing environment that can foster amazing childhoods for their children.
Families need resources and support they can turn to in times of need. When communities offer help with meeting basic needs that families find themselves unable to provide, unintended neglect is prevented.
Recognizing the need in your community is the first step. Start by asking yourself what basic things you need to support your family and what potential barriers to getting those things could be. Like how a higher than normal electricity bill could mean fewer diapers for the month.
Where would you go if...
School is out for Thanksgiving and you don’t have the means to feed your loved ones?
As the weather cools down it becomes more expensive to heat your home?
Your children have outgrown their coats and boots?
You are without transportation and needed to get to regular well-child checkups?
You don’t have enough money for diapers, which means you have to change them less often or reuse dirty ones?
When in doubt, always ask community groups or local service agencies where the gaps are in providing basics for families in need. Knowing what kinds of services are available in your neighborhood is a good start to spotting gaps. Helping out is easier than you think. This November make a goal to host a diaper drive at your workplace, your church, or in your neighborhood, offer a ride to a friend without transportation, or clean out your closet/pantry and donate items to a shelter.
Communities that can recognize the needs of their neighbors, spot the gaps in services, and offer to help meet those needs ensure that parents and caregivers can build the foundation their children need to experience a great childhood. When YOU help, our goal of safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments can be realized.
Here are some statewide programs that provide assistance:
Parent helpline – 1(800) CHILDREN
Domestic Violence helpline-1(800)356-6767
KidCentralTN – www.kidcentraltn.com