April 3, 2017
The Loudoun County Partnership for Resilient Children and Families released Resilient Children, Resilient Loudoun today, a report providing a valuable overview of the current state of children and families in the county, as well as 4 key recommendations:
- Increase community outreach to underserved and isolated families in Loudoun County.
- Support parents in the difficult job of parenting.
- Improve and increase reporting of children in danger of abuse or neglect.
- Increase funding and training for Loudoun County human service providers.
“Positive childhood investments will create a healthier Loudoun,” noted Sonia Quiñónez, Executive Director of SCAN. “Prevention efforts often get pushed aside in tight financial times. But it is far less expensive to invest early in preventing crises and helping children and families become more resilient in the face of life challenges. We hope that the information presented in this report highlights some of Loudoun County’s most urgent needs and focuses our efforts to effectively support vulnerable families and prevent traumatic childhood experiences.”
Loudoun County’s population has grown by 20% since the 2010 census, and its foreign-born population now accounts for nearly a quarter of the total population. At the same time, median household incomes are more than double the national median, yet one out of 25 school-age children in the county lives in poverty. Local schools, child protective services, mental health providers and traditional healthcare providers all reported dramatic increases in Loudoun children in need of mental health supports.
In 2016, SCAN of Northern Virginia, with support from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation (NVHF), convened a steering committee of public, private, and non-profit organizations that serve children and families in Loudoun County. The goal was to assess the needs of vulnerable children and the resources available to support at-risk families; collaboratively develop recommendations for addressing the gaps identified; and raise awareness of how a community can best support vulnerable children and reduce long-term health outcomes for individuals, families, and communities.
The Partnership’s work focused on non-medical factors that significantly influence health (often known as “upstream” factors), reflecting NVHF’s statement that “most of what makes us sick has less to do with health care and far more to do with where we live, work, play, and pray.” Those involved at the beginning of the process recognized that working upstream to improve health would require a coordinated community effort to nurture families and support children who have suffered trauma, witnessed domestic violence, or have not had safe, stable home environments in which to grow and develop.
Core members of the Partnership include HealthWorks; LAWS (Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter); Loudoun Child Advocacy Center; Loudoun Department of Family Services; Loudoun Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services; INMED; Inova Loudoun Children’s Emergency Room; Loudoun County Public Schools; the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office; and SCAN of Northern Virginia, which facilitated the Partnership as well as publication of the report.
“By working ‘upstream’ together,” adds Quiñónez, “we can all help improve health and well-being for children, their families, and Loudoun County as a whole.”
Last year, the Partnership focused on collecting data from the community through focus groups, evaluations, phone calls and research. It also hosted 3 summits to engage the greater community in discussions about child sexual abuse, ways to support and engage immigrant families, and the neurobiology of stress and trauma.
This month, in conjunction with National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April, the Partnership releases its report to inform and energize the community in its second year of work. Members will share the data and recommendations with targeted community groups, as well as host 3 more summits that will begin to address both the recommendations in the report as well as capacity building issues in the County.
To learn more or download the full report, visit www.scanfamilies.org/loudoun.