April 15, 2011 – Brevard CARES was recognized by the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force of Brevard for its child abuse prevention efforts with the presentation of the Social Service Award for Group or Team Field Work at the task force’s 15th annual Child Abuse Prevention Awards Banquet on April 14 at the Hilton Rialto Place, in Melbourne. The event is held each April to coincide with national Child Abuse Prevention Awareness month, a time dedicated to raising the awareness of ways to reduce the incidences of child abuse and neglect.

The organization was recognized for its “Work as a group or team in the field of child welfare that has promoted efforts toward strengthening and supporting families, specifically in the prevention of child abuse.”

“Brevard CARES truly deserves this recognition for helping to strengthen families with a ‘whatever it takes’ attitude,” said CAPTF Chairman, Tracy Little. “Every day, they demonstrate their passion for keeping children safe and out of the formal dependency system, and keeping families together. We also recognized how well they work in partnership with other agencies and organization in mutually achieving child safety and family preservation.

Applying the principals of Wraparound and Family Team Conferencing to families experiencing stressors that may lead to child abuse or neglect, Brevard CARES is able to create a community of formal and informal supports and services for a family to help them reach their goals of safety and stability. Since 2005, the organization has served over 14,000 children and their families in Brevard, diverting a majority from entering the formal child welfare dependency system.  To date, Brevard CARES has reduced the number of children in the dependency system by over 50%, while still serving a growing number each year.

“We are honored to have been selected as this year’s award recipient,” said Brevard CARES executive director, Valerie Holmes. “I want to thank the staff for their commitment to strengthening families who are experiencing stressors, before they reach the threshold of abuse; this is what early intervention is all about.”

A recent evaluation of Brevard CARES by the Academy for Educational Development in Washington, D.C., concluded that “Brevard CARES positively and significantly increases the probability that children who complete the program will not be abused, as compared to children who are referred but do not participate in Brevard CARES While not definitive, these initial findings indicate that Brevard CARES is very successful, especially as an early intervention program. Since the evaluation findings appear to meet the Promising Practices criteria for evidence-based program, AED recommends submitting the internal evaluation findings to the Promising Practices Network for review.”