SCAN's Prevention Work

The Statewide Citizens' Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) continues to play a very important role in advising Director McDonald on setting priorities for the administration of child abuse prevention. SCAN, which was created and mandated by an amendment to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act in 1980, is composed of 25 individuals of distinction in the areas of human services, health services, social justice and child welfare. The committee meets every other month, or more often as required.

SCAN has discussed many issues related to preventing child abuse during the past year, but its most visible product has been the Citizen to Citizen II prevention grant program. The committee designed this program to help Local Area Networks (LANs) continue their development of child abuse and neglect awareness and prevention programs in their communities.

Many communities began such programs under the first round of Citizen to Citizen grants in 1995. That initial grant program, also designed and recommended by SCAN, provided small grants of money to all LANs in the state.

SCAN designed Citizen to Citizen II, however, to provide larger grants to a limited number of LANs and statewide organizations selected through a competitive process. SCAN advised the Department to issue a few larger grants (rather than small ones to every LAN) to enable the communities that received the awards to design, expand or replicate effective programs in a more substantial way.

SCAN also advised the Department to award one-third of the available prevention grant money to statewide organizations or to organizations presenting viable proposals for statewide prevention/awareness programs. Three statewide proposals and 10 LAN-based proposals were funded. The grants were made possible, in part, by the federal Community-Based Family Resource Program and the state Child Abuse Prevention Fund. The state fund is supported by taxpayer donations to the child abuse tax check-off fund, which can be made by checking the appropriate box as citizens file their state income tax returns. The projects are designed to be completed June 30 of this year.

Another important accomplishment of SCAN has been advising the department to continue funding the Shawnee Healthy Families project at the Adolescent Health Center in Carbondale. The grantee, Shawnee Health Services and Development Association, administers the home visitation program, which is based on the Hawaii model. Trained staff meet with new parents after the birth of their child and before they leave the hospital. Services, including regular home visits, are offered to help parents learn basic child rearing approaches; assist them in adjusting to having a new baby; help them understand child development; and link them with resources in their community. The parents are not charged for these services.

SCAN originally recommended that the Department fund the development and operation of this program for three years, which expires June 30, 1997. However, because the program appears to be operating effectively and because of the great need for the program in this area, SCAN urged DCFS to fund it for at least one more year. The program will be funded with $100,000 in prevention money in FY98.

SCAN also advised the Department to support a comprehensive campaign that promoted the Child Abuse Prevention Tax Check-off fund in January, February, March and April of 1997. Director McDonald followed the recommendation and the Department contracted with Prevent Child Abuse-Illinois to design, implement and administer the campaign. This has resulted in the production and statewide distribution of four public service announcement videos to television and cable television stations and companies around the state. Billboards were created along the roadways of Illinois. Bus cards were distributed to public transportation organizations in Chicago and other large cities, and newspapers have been asked to publish articles about the fund and the prevention programs it supports. The videos, billboards and bus cards all have the same theme and carry the appeal, "Give Until It Doesn't Hurt," along with a reminder for citizens to check line 15B on their Illinois income tax returns.

SCAN members participated in a public event to kick off child abuse prevention awareness month on April 1. DCFS, Parents Anonymous and Michael Jordan's restaurant hosted an event to publicize the Blue Bow Campaign. The blue bow has come to symbolize child abuse prevention. During the event, a huge blue bow was placed in front of the restaurant.

SCAN has proven itself to be a very valuable source of advice relating to the administration of child abuse prevention programs. The committee is currently chaired by Jamie Delgado of Chicago. Vickie Smith, of Springfield, serves as the vice chair. The committee is staffed by the Division of Child Protection under the authority of Deputy Director Ed Cotton. Ray Gates oversees the committee. Anyone desiring more information about the committee may call Mr. Cotton or Mr. Gates at (217) 785-2513.

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