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Aniya Haynes and her daughter, Ariana, receive services through Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency.

Throughout April, during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency is uniting its many programs to create an environment of awareness and support for families and children in our community. I encourage everyone to join us in standing up for the future of our community’s children.

Statistics obtained through the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, provided by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families, from its 2015 Child Maltreatment Report, help frame the extent of the issue:

• During the federal fiscal year 2015, Child Protective Services agencies received an estimated 4 million referrals involving approximately 7.2 million children suspected of being abused or neglected; this represents a 15.5-percent increase since 2011.

• In 2015, approximately 683,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse and neglect; the victim rate was 9.2 victims per 1,000 children.

• Of those children victimized, 75.3 percent were neglected; 17.2 percent physically abused; 8.4 percent sexually abused and 6.9 percent maltreated in other ways including emotional abuse, threats and/or being subjected to a parent’s drug/alcohol abuse.

• In 2015, a nationally estimated 1,670 children died of abuse and neglect at a rate of 2.25 per 100,000 children in the national population.

Prevent Child Abuse America research indicates that most people are involved in child abuse prevention, although they may not realize it. Activities include mentoring children or parents (70 percent), donating to related causes (80 percent), and advocating for children and families (77 percent). CSCAA invites you to join its month-long efforts to celebrate the children in our community while raising awareness about prevention. There are many ways to get involved!

Our annual Bottoms Up Diaper Drive will run throughout April and will support low-income families in the community. We are grateful for donations of disposable diapers (any size or brand), wipes and diaper cream. Donations may be dropped off at 23 Center St. in Waterloo or 89 York St. in Auburn. If you would like to donate but require pickup, please call (315) 255-1703 and ask to speak with Healthy Families program staff. Monetary donations can be made online at, or mailed to our York Street headquarters.

Pinwheels are recognized as the national symbol for child abuse prevention, serving as a tangible reminder of the worry-free childhoods we desire for all children. On April 2, our agency will plant pinwheel gardens throughout our service area, including the front lawn of Memorial City Hall in Auburn, our Seneca programs site in Waterloo, and satellite Early Childhood Program sites in Moravia and Southern Cayuga. Parents will be invited to help plant this symbolic garden with their children. Our Early Childhood Program (Early Head Start/Head Start/UPK) is planning additional educational activities with families throughout April.

In another symbolic gesture, the agency will participate in Go Blue Day on April 6 by encouraging all staff to wear blue and make a donation to this important cause. You can also join this national movement and wear blue, the official color of prevention, to show your support for children. Be sure to take a selfie or group photo, post on Facebook and tag our agency!

Our month-long campaign will end in special collaboration with our faith-based partners on Blue Sunday, April 29. This national movement encourages parishioners to pray for victims of abuse and those who rescue them. Ask your church to join this life-changing effort; you can learn more at

CSCAA operates many programs that help strengthen families and reduce the likelihood of abuse and neglect, including our evidence-based home visiting program Healthy Families Program, Early Childhood Program (Early Head Start/Head Start) and Kinship Care Program. Throughout the month of April, we will post daily on Facebook about our family support programs, other local resources available to support children and families in our community such as Nurse Family Partnership and ABC Cayuga's Play Space, child abuse statistics, warning signs and symptoms, and prevention activities that you can get involved in (

Child abuse prevention is more than a task — it is a way of life, a practice and a commitment. Please join our efforts to promote awareness about child abuse and neglect, and embrace healthy and safe childhoods here in our own community!

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Joanne Ocasio-Bizardi is the Healthy Families Program manager at the Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency. She can be reached at (315) 255-1703 ext. 226 or