Protective Factor 3: Concrete Supports

The Ballard Center started out as a childcare center for low income families. Because childcare can cost upwards of $900 a month in this community, the need for an affordable, quality, and safe environment is key to the success of children and families who can't afford that shocking price tag.

Along the way, it became apparent that just serving children inside the four walls of the center wasn't enough. Children who aren't getting enough to eat, whose homes are dangerous for lack of utilities, or whose parents are stressed or ill-supported cannot thrive even with the highest quality of care imaginable during the day.

In order to serve children appropriately we realize we need to serve the whole family. We cannot separate the child's growth and needs from that of his or her parents. Offering services like food and clothing pantries, rent and utility assistance, case management, and home visitation means we close the loop on many needs that otherwise would often go unmet for children and the people who raise them.

No parent can become a better, more engaged parent if there is disaster and chaos around every corner. What we do for families is not a hand out. It's a hand up. We realize that temporary relief from shortages of funds or food can make all the difference in moving toward a self sufficient and healthy life. Our children deserve to sleep in safe places with full bellies. Their parents deserve to know that someone cares and there's somewhere to turn when life gets overly scary or complicated.

Protecting children from child abuse and putting them on a track for success and health means providing parents with concrete supports. Food, shelter, a listening ear - all of these things mean that a parent might have a little more patience, a little more time, the ability to focus on the child with more grace and love.

Next time you donate to your local food pantry, contribute to Westar's Warm Hearts program, or pass on your too-small winter coat, we hope that you understand that you are contributing to a community effort, and that you are possibly preventing abuse or neglect. It's more than a can of soup you're giving; it's often a safe evening and a peaceful home.

Tagged: Ballard, Center

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