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Parental education programs seek to prevent child abuse

Parental education programs seek to...

SPOKANE, Wash. - 28-year-old Joshua Mobley is accused of killing a 10-month-old child who was in his care, and many community members now wonder what could have been done to prevent it.

There are a number of places, such as the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery, that provide services for parents in a  moment of crisis.

There are also places like Partners  with Families and Children, that work proactively and retroactively to combat abuse.

“We are a children's advocacy center-- we provide child forensic interviews and medical exams for children where maltreatment is suspected,” said PWFC developmental director Linda Safford.

From supporting children through difficult court testimonies, to helping with substance abuse  problems..
PWFC is an agency that attempts to attack the child abuse problem at its roots.

“Often times in their need and their urgency to get care for their children that's where these situations occur,” Safford said.

But, those roots run deep.

“We know from our partners at the [Spokane Regional] Health District that in 2015 there were 5,431 documented cases of child abuse or maltreatment in Spokane County.

Additional SRHD data also states that, in the past decade, over 50,000 cases of child abuse have been documented in our county, a number Safford describes as “staggering.”

PWFC treats around 1,000 families a year, and additional clients in it's substance abuse and mental health programs. Safford said many of the people they work with  are single parents.

Spokane offers a number of resources, but many are focused on mothers.

At PWFC, anyone seeking to learn more about childcare – mothers, fathers, or even caregivers/babysitters-- has options.

“PWFC fills the gap, fills component around parent education and parent support and specifically around fathers,” said PWFC Mental Health and Clinical Director Christie Pelz.

The “Engaging Fatherhood” program is one of several that aims to minimize the stigma surrounding seeking help-through empathy.

“When you can sit in a room with other dads and other men in a parenting role, all of the sudden 'it's not just me feeling like I'm at my wit's end'- it gives you a little bit of hope that 'I can make it through next time,'” said Pelz

It works. Parents in the program check in each week, and take pre and post program surveys that point to improvements.

“We see decreases in harsh punishment, and decreases in unrealistic expectations that they may have,” Pelz said.

Because caring for a child is not always easy- but abuse is not the answer.

“It's tough being a parent.. and it's wonderful to have that opportunity to normalize the frustration,” Pelz said.

PWFC takes referrals from agencies, but is open to anyone. For more information about the programs they offer, visit their website.

In a crisis moment, parents can call the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery for help. Their phone number is (509) 535-3155 and more information is available on their website


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