Specialty license plates that help fund child abuse prevention programs across Arizona have been available for purchase since 1999.
This summer, 16 Arizona nonprofits shared $425,000 in grants from the “It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child” specialty license plate program.
The license plate program was started in 1999 as a joint effort between The Arizona Republic/azcentral.com, the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family and the Arizona Community Foundation. Since then, more than $9 million has been distributed to agencies working to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The license plates are $25, $17 of which goes to the agencies. Get your plate at servicearizona.com.
In this series, we take a closer look at the work being done by the nonprofits. Featured today: Prevent Child Abuse Arizona.
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Prevent Child Abuse Arizona, Prescott Valley
Grant amount: $33,000. 602-255-5540, pcaaz.org.
Beth Eggers-Sedlet likes to say her son is one of the lucky ones.
When he was four months old, David, now 19, was shaken by a daycare provider while crying. Though he survived, he has been dealing with the consequences ever since.
“It’s the worst thing that can happen to you,” Eggers-Sedlet said. “He is able to walk and talk and is fully functional, but he’s had to live every day with disabilities he never should have had.”
David was in the intensive care unit for three weeks after the incident and went through therapy until he was about 16 or 17. One of the hardest things, Eggers-Sedlet said, was not knowing the outcome.
“(The doctors) couldn’t tell us how he would be,” she said. “It’s a brain injury, they don’t know.”
After her experience with David, Eggers-Sedlet didn’t want any other family to suffer. She became interested in finding out what programs were available to help prevent shaken baby syndrome, and later got involved with the organization Prevent Child Abuse Arizona.
Focus on the early life cycle
One of the most important things for parents, Eggers-Sedlet said, is being educated. Though David was her second child, Eggers-Sedlet didn’t really know what shaken baby syndrome was.
Shaken baby syndrome is a serious brain injury caused by severely shaking a child. It’s one of the most frequent causes of deaths of infants each year. It can also cause permanent blindness or developmental problems if the child survives.
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, approximately 1,300 cases are reported each year in the United States and most occur in children under six months old.
Executive director Becky Ruffner said the organization trains nurses in the state hospitals that deliver babies, of which there are about 60, and ultimately reaches about half of the parents of babies born in the state each year.
Making sure parents who need help, get it
The organization offers a variety of programs and services, but Ruffner said they primarily focus on the early life cycle and parenting experience as this is when there is a greater “window of opportunity” to provide information and support. She said children under the age of one are the largest age group in the child welfare system and “extremely vulnerable” to mistreatment from parents or being removed from homes to be put in foster care.
“Arizona doesn’t provide much in the way of help for parents’ support,” Ruffner said. “The job of prevention is to make sure that any parent who needs help is able to get it, and that’s not always the case in Arizona.”
Poverty is one of the most common causes that Ruffner said leads to child maltreatment. Others include lack of parenting skills, alcohol and drug abuse and domestic violence. Typically, Ruffner said, some combination of these problems occurs simultaneously.
The “It Shouldn’t Hurt to be a Child” grant program is primarily funded by the sale of the specialty license plate. Get yours at servicearizona.org. Additional funds are provided by the BHHS Legacy Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and the Valley of the Sun United Way.
SRP presents: Saving Arizona’s Kids
What it is: SRP presents an evening celebrating the spirit of family with stories from the men and women making a difference in the lives of Arizona’s most vulnerable children. Also: An education fair with local agencies working to prevent child abuse and neglect.
When: Monday Oct. 16. Education fair, 5-7 p.m. Storytelling, 7-9 p.m.
Where: The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren St., Phoenix. thevanburenphx.com.
Buy tickets: tickets.azcentral.com.
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