Multiple stressors in a family increase the risk of child abuse or neglect. These can include lack of parental support systems, economic hardship, isolation of a family, and alcohol and substance abuse. When you come across families that are under unusual stress, think about the kinds of support you can provide and community resources you can call in that may help the family cope with specific stressors. This action can reduce the chances that child abuse or neglect will occur.
There are two main roles that you should play:
YOU can counsel parents
that all families need help and support at some time in their lives. All parents feel stress—from the constant demands of children for time and attention, problems at work or at home, worries about money and loss of a job, and many more. Many parents believe that they should be able to “tough it out” and handle everything themselves. You can talk to a parent about the kinds of stress they are experiencing. You can emphasize that it takes courage to ask for help, but that asking is the first step towards feeling better about themselves and being a better parent for their children.
YOU can call in other community resources.
Monroe County is fortunate to have a wide range of services and agencies to help parents cope with life stressors and parent their children. You should become familiar with these resources. Your knowledge of these community resources and your actions in assisting with referrals can help prevent child abuse and neglect from occurring in families under stress. Remember that families are in different stages of readiness to accept help. You may need to maintain contact and work with a family for an extended period before they are ready to accept a referral.