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What’s in a name? Here, it’s child abuse ‘prevention’

By: Mike Mason
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“KidsFirst” has such a warm, delicate and caring ring to it. How can an organization who puts kids first possibly conjure up bad mojo in anyone? Add to that our tagline, “Educating. Advocating. Changing Lives.” Soft landing, right? Well, when our legal name surfaces, it sometimes wreaks a little havoc on public perception. This is particularly (and unfortunately) so sometimes with people who need our services the most. You see, in Placer County, KidsFirst Counseling and Family Resources Centers is also KidsFirst Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC, for short). “Child abuse?” We’ve heard countless times, “My gosh, I haven’t abused my children!” And, most of the time they haven’t.

Many people, especially those in education, law enforcement and social services, are relieved — often very happy — that an organization like KidsFirst (CAPC and all) is serving their communities. However, for those folks who are facing challenging life situations, child abuse prevention can sound quite ominous, intimidating.

A brief background search would tell you that about 30 years ago, the State of California mandated that all 58 counties create a CAPC. Each county had the liberty to form and then mold their respective CAPC, tailoring it to the needs of their constituents. This tells us that not all CAPCs necessarily look alike — the council simply must spearhead programs and services that prevent child abuse, as dictated by the needs in their communities. Mandated reporter training, parenting classes, therapeutic counseling and linkage to local resources are some examples of what many CAPCs — certainly KidsFirst — offers.

No matter how well-intended, though, “child abuse prevention” simply scares some people away.

About 10 years ago, your Placer County Child Abuse Prevention Council wisely choose our current moniker, In many cases, the name change to “KidsFirst” eliminated the fear some people seeking help faced, but many diligent researchers probed a bit more to discover our surname and either tucked tail or approached us with genuine apprehension.

Those who need our services and those who refer people to our services should know a few things: 1. All of our programs services are FREE. 2. We serve children and adults. 3. The majority of programs and services we offer are available in English and Spanish. 4. Abuse does not have to be in the equation to receive services. 5. Our clients information is always kept confidential. And 6. We are all about strengthening families, not separating them.

In 2019, KidsFirst turns 30! That’s 30 years of providing help to those who have been abused. That’s 30 years of helping who have not experienced abuse but are struggling. Most importantly — that’s 30 years of working diligently to prevent child abuse. Is our job over? I’d love to say, yes but we all know that’s not true. We will continue for three more years or 30 more years or 300 more years — however long it takes — to protect the children of our county by educating, advocating and changing lives.

KidsFirst runs counseling and family resource centers in Roseville and Auburn. People can inquire and even self-refer by calling 916-774-6802 or emailing kidsfirst@kidsfirstnow.org. To learn more, visit kidsfirstnow.org or facebook.com/kidsfirstnow.

Mike Mason is responsible for the community development and communications for KidsFirst. Contact him at mmason@kidsfirstnow.org.