on Monique's mind
For the Children.
With the season of celebrations upon us, it is disheartening to turn on the news and see continuous stories of children missing, abused, or harmed at the hands of their own parents or adults whom they trusted. With each incident comes the narrative of a system that failed to protect a child from repeated abuse and neglect. Nationally, and throughout the state of Illinois, child protective services are struggling to maintain a standard of excellence that keeps our most vulnerable population safe. What if we could make it so these systems weren’t needed to begin with?
In our journey to assure we are laser-focused on areas that improve our community, the Foundation has made significant investments over time in the early childhood sector. From home visiting to children’s savings accounts, ECF is supporting areas that we know improve the lives of children and families as they grow and thrive throughout Evanston. I’m encouraged by the many early childhood service providers who make it their sole purpose to provide safe spaces for families to learn and grow together. The key to ending child abuse is to prevent violence from happening in the first place, to address root causes. To do this we have to address factors at all levels of our ecosystem-individual through community. As such, we keep our attention on programs that strengthen economic equality for families, as well as those that provide access to stress-reducing activities and family engagement opportunities. Partners like our friends at the Erikson Institute, YWCA Evanston North Shore, and the Moran Center all focus on three distinctly different, yet systemically, tied issues families face daily. This is community. This is what we need.
Our focus on children doesn’t stop at early childhood. Let us not forget that children GROW! With summer approaching, we will see children attending programs, exploring their independence, and assuring they continue to practice all the skills they picked up during the school year. Making these programs more accessible to youth is important. Summer fun is a necessity for our community and helps fill in the gaps to assure safe places for our youth to enjoy each other’s company. We are happy to invest in summer learning programs with the McGaw YMCA, Youth Job Center, Eat Play Learn and MetroSquash. Again, all focused on distinctly different, yet systemically tied, issues facing families in Evanston.
While it is hard to witness these horrific stories or abuse and neglect, I am hopeful that we can keep an eye on our community to assure we have resources available to Evanston families. With May being National Mental Health Awareness Month I’m implored to share the National Alliance on Mental Illness website as well as Prevent Child Abuse America. Both national sites that will connect you with local resources should you or someone in your community need them. Please share with us what programs you love and support for your family and friends. Together we can continue to make services available for all.
With Highest Hopes,
Monique B. Jones