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For Release: November 13, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

Public Health Officials Urge Parents and Communities to Build on Strengths -- National Family Week Nov. 23-29

Everyone can play a part in building strong families and preventing child abuse by celebrating National Family Week, Nov. 23-29. This year’s theme is “Connections Count.” The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the Oklahoma Family Resource Coalition encourage families and community organizations to plan and participate in fun family and community activities during the holiday season.

“We want to emphasize that children live better lives when their families are strong, and families are strong when they live in communities that connect them to economic opportunities, social networks, and services. These connections include access to reliable transportation, employment opportunities, education, child care, housing, health care and support from community networks and institutions,” said Sherie Trice, coordinator, OSDH Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Grant.

According to OSDH public health officials, certain protective factors have been identified to reduce risks of child abuse and neglect, build family capacity for growth, foster resilience against social problems, and strengthen the family and community. They include:

Nurturing and attachment: Early bonding and nurturing throughout childhood builds a close bond that helps parents better understand, respond to, and communicate with their children.

Knowledge of parenting and child and youth development: Information about what to anticipate as children develop and strategies for effective parenting so that parents learn what to look for at each age and how to help their children reach their full potential.

Parental resilience: How parents’ ability to cope and problem solve affects their ability to deal effectively with everyday stress or a major crisis and recognizing the signs of stress. Knowing what to do about it can help parents learn how to cope.

Social connections: Identify ways to help parents expand their social networks to

build a broader base of parenting support such as family, friends, and neighbors who can help in times of need.

Concrete supports for parents: Finding out what basic resources are available in the community and how to access them to address family-specific needs such as access to financial, housing and other resources can help parents have more time to fulfill their role as parents.

Some ways you can make “Connections Count” include extending your family by meeting your neighbors and having a neighborhood activity; getting involved in a school meeting or activity to improve your child’s education; coordinating a family volunteer project; picking an issue that can improve your community, then working with local officials and organizations to make the changes; and encouraging employers to consider family friendly work options such as flexible hours and time off to attend school functions.

For more information about National Family Week across the U.S., visit www.nationalfamilyweek.org. For more information about what Oklahoma is doing, visit www.ofrc.org or contact Sherie Trice, coordinator of the OSDH Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Grant, at (405) 271-7611.

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