Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) collaborates with existing networks of public and private non-profit child abuse and neglect prevention programs to provide child abuse and neglect prevention services to families throughout Virginia. Some examples of these collaborative community partnerships are listed below.
Presented in partnership with the Virginia Department of Social Services and Families Forward, the Virginia Repertory Theatre's production of Hugs and Kisses is the state's principal and most comprehensive child sexual abuse prevention program and has been since its inception in 1983. It introduces the concepts of good touch, bad touch and secret touch to elementary school students in grades K-5 in a sensitive and age appropriate manner through an enjoyable, award-winning musical play. Performances are either live or virtual. Hugs and Kisses has been shown in every school district in Virginia and has been seen by over 1.8 million children. Safety messages are presented to as many as 50,000 children in up to 160 performances per school year.
Healthy Families is a national evidence-based, voluntary home visiting model designed to support parents prenatally or at the time of the baby's delivery. Families receive an initial visit where their strengths and needs are identified, then decide if Healthy Families or other services are right for them. Enrolled families are paired with a home visitor to support nurturing parent-child relationships, develop positive parenting skills, provide safe homes, and learn how to support healthy child development.
The Virginia Department of Social Services receives federal CBCAP funds from the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Funds awarded to Virginia through this grant are used to support the development, operation and expansion of community-based, prevention-focused programs and activities. Community-based program contractors provide services to children and families through evidence based practices, connect families with resources, and provide learning curricula that focus on training child care providers in prevention and protective factors to help decrease rates of child abuse and neglect and create stronger families.
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) provide essential services to victims of child abuse and neglect. CACs are child-focused, facility-based programs that engage multidisciplinary teams to discuss and make decisions about investigation, treatment, intervention, and prosecution of child abuse cases. Child abuse victims receive care and services at one location in order to avoid the additional trauma of having to go to multiple sites. There are currently 19 Centers in Virginia with six satellite centers. CACs are federally funded through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) and through state TANF and General Funds allocations from the Virginia General Assembly. CACs are nationwide and accredited by the National Children's Alliance with support from the local chapter, the Child Advocacy Centers of Virginia (CACVA).
Core components of CACs:
- Separate, child-friendly facilities for interviewing using a forensic interviewing model and providing services to child victims and the non-offending family members;
- Specially trained professionals from core disciplines comprise multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and include: law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medicine, and victim advocacy. MDT members work together to investigate the child abuse cases, determine appropriate care for the child victim and support to the family and manage legal proceedings, as necessary with regular interdisciplinary case review; and
- Intensive case follow-up (i.e., counseling services)