Child abuse is a crisis in Texas. The SAFE Alliance reports that in 2015 there were 66,721 confirmed cases of child maltreatment in the state and 113 child fatalities due to abuse and neglect.

In the midst of this crisis, it is important to remember that our goal should be to prevent child abuse cases from ever happening. Over the past few years, the School of Social Work’s Texas Institute of Child & Family Wellbeing has been collaborating with DFPS Prevention and Early Intervention Division to conduct cross-site evaluation of a a child maltreatment prevention initiative, Project HOPES: Healthy Outcomes through Prevention and Early Support.

hopes-2015-briefProject HOPES is a three-phase initiative that awards grants to Texas counties at-risk for child abuse and neglect. To be eligible to participate, counties were ranked based on child abuse and neglect fatalities, child poverty, substance abuse convictions and treatment facility admissions, domestic violence convictions, and teen pregnancy rates. Project Hopes focuses on enhancing collaborations and strengthening already established community programs. The goals are to provide education, skills, and resources to local communities and families to empower them to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Implementation of Project HOPES started in 2014. Each phase consists of eight counties, which results in a total of 24 counties across Texas participating in the program by 2017. Read more about Project HOPES’s first year of implementation.

By Swetha Nulu & Kate McKerlie.