On April 28th, the Monique Burr Foundation for Children (MBF) held its first Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Training and Conference. This amazing event brought over 60 dedicated professionals from 23 of the 27 CAC’s in Florida together to talk about prevention resources, opportunities, and next steps using MBF’s Child Safety Matters Prevention Education Programs. Attendees heard from several speakers currently using MBF Child Safety Matters and were trained as Certified Facilitators.
Our Executive Director, Lynn Layton, kicked of the morning with a welcome and introductions. Stacy Pendarvis, our Program Director, gave an overview of the three Child Safety Matters programs and trained all attendees to use the programs in their local schools.
During lunch, we had the opportunity to hear from two speakers whose lives have been impacted by sexual abuse. These women have become inspiring advocates for children.
- Carol Hogue from Darkness to Light (D2L). If you’ve participated in D2L’s Stewards of Children training you would recognize Carol as Wesley’s mom. Carol is now the Programs Quality Assurance Specialist at D2L. Carol provided copies of the “What If?” Game to encourage students to talk about Body Safety and Boundaries. She also shared resources and upcoming D2L events. Visit d2l.org for more information.
- Lakesha Burton, Executive Director of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Police Athletic League, and a survivor of both child sexual abuse and domestic violence, provided the lunch keynote address. Lt. Burton shared her experiences of victimization and educated attendees about the correlation of child abuse and domestic violence. She thanked everyone for their efforts to protect children, and we thank her for sharing her story and using her voice to better protect children.
After lunch, attendees heard speakers from three Child Advocacy Centers who provide MBF Child Safety Matters to students in their communities. They shared their experiences and “lessons learned” to help attendees and their CAC’s with their own prevention efforts using MBF’s programs.
- Denise Jenkins, Outreach and Awareness Specialist from CARE House in Dayton, OH, spoke about how they have been implementing the MBF Child Safety Matters program at schools, daycares, and after-school programs since 2014, educating almost 2,000 students to date. One of her recommendations was to make sure to involve staff and parents in the program through in-service opportunities. It takes a village to protect children, and everyone needs to be involved!
- Stacey Kostevicki, Executive Director, and Paula Doty, Prevention Specialist from Gulf Coast Kids House, shared their experiences partnering with their local schools to provide MBF Child Safety Matters lessons. They successfully gained the support of their local superintendent, and have been implementing in additional schools and classrooms each year since then.
- Monique Gorman, Community Outreach Advocate from Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center, began providing MBF Child Safety Matters lessons to schools in their six-county area in October of 2016. She shared some of the scheduling tools she uses to set up classroom visits, and talked about the importance of educating faculty and staff about the program, because you never know who a child will choose as a Safe Adult, and everyone should be prepared for disclosures after the lessons. She encouraged everyone to “put on their CAPE for Child Abuse Prevention Education”.
Participants left the conference inspired and motivated, and shared great feedback with the MBF team:
“Loved the training and can’t wait to get into the schools here in our county! Thank you for the opportunity.”
“Thank you for an informative conference. One of the best conferences I have attended within my 8 years of social service!”
Overall, it was a successful day and MBF is excited about these new partnerships with Florida’s Child Advocacy Centers and the opportunities to provide MBF Child Safety Matters programs to more of Florida’s students. Our hope is that each of these CAC’s will begin to use the programs in their own community to help us better protect children. As one speaker aptly stated, “Helping one child may not change the world, but it could change the world for one child.”
If you would like to learn more about our programs or how you can better protect children:
- Visit our websites, mbfchildsafetymatters.org and www.polyvictimization.org
- Download the FREE “Child Safety Matters” app from the App Store or Google Play
- Visit childsafetymattersedu.org to take any of our free, one-hour online courses
To view photos from the event, visit the link below:
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