Child abuse and neglect is a reoccurring issue that tends to be overlooked.
The Child Protection Partnership in Woodbridge is an advocacy group that aims to reduce and eliminate it.
“Our vision is that we would have a community where children are accepted, loved, cared for and nurtured so that they become responsible adults,” Founding Member Ric Perez said.
Officials formed the Child Protection Partnership 20 years ago.
At the time, Prince William County, and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park were experiencing significant growth in their populations. Child abuse and neglect was also increasing.
Perez served as director of Prince William County Department of Social Services, which was responsible for looking into reports of child abuse and neglect.
However, it didn’t play a role in its prevention.
Members of the department noticed that many local organizations were engaged with children and families.
“Our thought was if we could form some kind of an organization or a partnership that would begin to address prevention and education, that we might be able to slow the growth in the number of children who were being abused and neglected,” Perez said.
Today, the coalition is made up of 15 to 20 organizations that are engaged with children and families. The Arc of Greater Prince William in Dale City and SCAN of Northern Virginia in Alexandria are among them.
“It’s a wide range of agencies that have come together, and the goal is to try to educate the community about child abuse and neglect and also to emphasize programs that work with children and families to reduce stress in the instance of child abuse and neglect,” Perez said.
Those interested in getting involved with the Child Protection Partnership can visit its Facebook page or contact a local Department of Social Services.