Published April 30, 2020 in the Cincinnati Enquirer
By Tracy Cook
ProKids Executive Director
There are a lot of tough questions right now. And every answer seems to bring new questions.
At ProKids, our passionate staff and dedicated volunteers – backed by a committed community – navigate in a world where helping abused and neglected children thrive depends on being adaptable because it’s always been complicated and unpredictable.
That work, of advocating directly for these children who are often in foster care, has never been more important.
Invisibly, behind the closed doors of our community, children are suffering.
After 40 years of work with these vulnerable children, we know the storm clouds are gathering and we need to prepare for what’s coming.
- Domestic abuse is rising worldwide.
- Adverse Childhood Events or ACEs have a greater chance of occurring.
- COVID-19 will increase child abuse.
- In general, kids will be at risk even as the health risks ease because of the likelihood of economic turmoil.
Trauma casts a long shadow in a child’s life.
That’s why we will need our entire community to join us at ProKids as we mobilize to face the months ahead.
From the moment our community entered this COVID-19 crisis, our ProKids volunteers and staff were prepared to continue to advocate for the children they serve. They made sure these children were safe, that their foster parents and kinship care providers had what they needed and that they had medical care and school services. While maintaining social distancing and being creative, our volunteers kept their ties to these kids. Along with others in the child protection system, our staff members kept the legal wheels turning.
That was great for the children already in our orbit. Last year, we served 1,009 thanks to a record-setting 300-plus volunteers. An incredible 99% of the children we serve are free from abuse and neglect. But we are looking around the corner and seeing what’s ahead. While all of this is unprecedented, it’s clear that it’s going to take more of us to ensure that our children are safe, secure and move as quickly as possible to permanent homes where they can thrive.
Not doing so will have ramifications that last generations. When children do not have stability as they grow up, they are more likely to suffer chronic health conditions, become mentally ill, be homeless and unemployed as adults and have other outcomes which mean the next generation can be part of the same cycle.
This is where you come in. Being a part of ProKids means that you are someone who cares about our community’s future. It means that you have an open heart and an open mind. And it means that you want to solve problems – by giving about 10 hours of your time a month – before those problems become unsolvable.
Our volunteers are from all walks of life, and, thanks to our training and ongoing support, they are making a meaningful difference. You can too.
Attend one of our introductory sessions and bring your questions. That’s what makes our volunteers so amazing: they never stop looking for answers. And every one of our children deserves a problem-solver like you.
Our introductory sessions and even our training have gone virtual. Go here to find out more.
Tracy Cook is the executive director of ProKids.