More than $100,000 in recent grants help keep area youth healthy and protected
April 7, 2011, Wilkes-Barre, PA — April marks National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and funding from The Blue Ribbon Foundation of Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is helping local nonprofits address child abuse and neglect rates that are significantly higher than the state average.
Since 2009, The Foundation has distributed more than $100,000 in grants to improve the health and safety of almost 700 families and more than 4,000 children across northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. From parenting lessons on nutrition and caregiving to screenings for mental health and substance abuse issues, more than a dozen regional programs received funding to curb violence and promote wellness among at-risk families, children and students.
In Luzerne County alone, there were more than 1,100 reported cases of suspected child abuse in 2008-09, according to the most recent state data. The state data indicate Luzerne County’s substantiated child abuse rate was 60 percent higher than the Commonwealth’s average in 2008.
Locally, a $7,000 grant has so far helped 57 families in Luzerne County via the "Supporting Stronger Families" program, which is run by the Pennsylvania affiliate of Volunteers of America. The nonprofit’s staff identify the underlying factors behind child abuse and neglect in local families and travel to their homes to address a range of needs from nutritional and wellness coaching to parenting education.
"The Foundation’s funding allows us to address some causes of child abuse and situations that put children at risk," said Meg Byrne, Volunteers of America’s supervisor of "Supporting Stronger Families." "Whether we’re making sure parents are cooking nutritious meals and tending to the health needs of their family or teaching them how to nurture their children and keep a house, we’re helping families better their lives every day."
Elsewhere in Luzerne County, nearly $10,000 in funding from The Foundation recently helped the Family Services Association of Wyoming Valley expand its Parent-Child Home Program to reach 100 high-risk families. The agency’s proven early childhood development program provides the health, school readiness and nutrition education services to assist local families in fighting poverty.
And to get babies off to a healthy start, Maternal and Family Health Services is using $10,000 of recent funding from The Blue Ribbon Foundation for a nurse visitation program that provides low-income expectant women and new mothers with life skills training. The "Nurse-Family Partnership Client Education" program also is helping 200 families in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Wayne and Susquehanna counties access counseling, health education and a variety of screenings.
Twenty-eight years ago, Congress designated April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month to recognize the importance of stopping the mistreatment of children. And for more than 70 years, BCNEPA has been carrying on its mission of promoting health and wellness among local residents of all ages.
"The Blue Ribbon Foundation is making a difference in the lives of area families by supporting comprehensive, evidence-based initiatives designed to help thousands of children," said Cynthia A. Yevich, The Foundation’s executive director.
About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to nearly 550,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide integrated health care services and products to improve the quality, accessibility and affordability of health care in the populations BCNEPA serves.
BCNEPA established its private, nonprofit Blue Ribbon Foundation in 2002 to invest in health education and prevention initiatives that produce measurable health improvements and help manage long-term health costs for the residents of northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.