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Top 10 for Children’s Center for 2023!

The last week of December is a fantastic time to reflect on everything that has happened in the last 12 months. One of my favorite pastimes is to read the “Top 10” lists for the year and check out the movies, books, music, and other “best of” lists for the year. For the End of Year Review for Children’s Center, I decided to compile my own TOP 10 List.

In the final quarter of our 3-year strategic plan, it is very gratifying to determine that we have met all of our milestones, and even exceeded our original goals. The three areas of our plan were to: Build and Strengthen Organization Resilience, Elevate the Conversation (by reaching more people and building knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to child maltreatment), and to Lead Systems that Heal. Each of the items listed below are the direct result of our staff, Board, and community coming together to meet these goals and achieve our vision of creating a world where all children are safe, valued, and heard.

Now, in no particular order, I present to you my TOP 10 List for Children’s Center for 2023!

1. First Annual Oregon Child Abuse Symposium

Children’s Center was one of the lead organizations that successfully provided a full-day of professional development to a diverse audience of CAC employees, law enforcement, District Attorneys, medical providers, educators, child welfare workers, and staff from several community-based organizations. Over 275 professionals attended the first annual Symposium and our planning team is well underway in preparing for the second event in May of 2024. We will be expanding to two days and partnering with our state Department of Justice and Oregon Child Abuse Solutions to offer an incredible learning opportunity for up to 400 participants.

2. Prevention and Community Engagement Program Up and Running!

Our goal is to share the message with as many people as possible that communities can prevent child abuse and neglect. With the support of a Community Initiated Project grant from the Administration for Children and Families, we were able to hire 3 full time staff in the program. This talented group of professionals worked with our Prevention and Community Engagement committee to set us on a course of significant impact in our community. Our ongoing Community Conversations and Connections Events have led to fruitful discussions with partners, parents, and business, government, education, and community leaders. These collaborative conversations have resulted in concrete actions and greater connections across multiple sectors in our community.

3. Sharing State of the Art Prevention Curriculum with our Community

We were so excited to finally publish our book “Raising Safe, Happy, and Healthy Kids: 50 tips for tackling even the toughest challenges with love, joy, and purpose.” All profits from this collaborative effort go to support our Prevention and Community Engagement program. Our national partner, Darkness to Light also released an updated version of their Stewards of Children curriculum in 2023. Children’s Center quickly trained 10 facilitators (7 of whom are Spanish-speaking) and we have been offering the updated workshops for several months. The updated curriculum shares 5 simple strategies that community members can take to protect children from sexual abuse in an accessible and culturally responsive format. If you are interested in purchasing books, taking a workshop or bringing training to your community or work groups, please contact us at prevention@childrenscenter.cc.

4. Therapy Program Provides a Record Number of Mental Health Services

In 2023, our licensed therapists provided over 1,100 mental health services to children in our community who have experienced the trauma of abuse. This is more than a 60% increase over the previous year, with no additional program costs! Our hard-working therapists have nearly eliminated our waiting list, allowing children in need of services to start receiving treatment much more quickly. In the context of a general lack of mental health services for young people in Oregon, this accomplishment cannot be overstated!

5. Children’s Center is a GREAT Place to Work

For the second year in a row, Children’s Center placed among the top Non-Profits in the Oregon Business Magazine’s Top 100 Non-Profits to Work For list! This ranking came from survey results of our staff and was largely due to the intentional efforts of our employees to improve workplace culture and mitigate Vicarious Trauma. This accomplishment is something to feel very proud about and helps us to recruit and retain staff during this time of labor shortages.

6. Children’s Center is also a GREEN Place to Work!

In addition to our placement on the Oregon Business Magazine’s Top 100 Nonprofits to Work For list, we also landed on list of the Top 100 Green Workplaces in Oregon! This is especially noteworthy, as this list was derived from businesses, corporations, and non-profit organizations in Oregon. Our Eco-team is a volunteer group of employees who encourage our organization to be excellent stewards of our environment. Children’s Center worked with the City of Oregon City to become the first group to “Adopt a Street” in their new program. You may see us out on our loop near Division Road, cleaning up the neighborhood sidewalks!

7. Collaborated with State Leadership to Improve Medical Services for Children

Our Medical Director collaborated with Oregon Child Abuse Solutions (the Oregon network of CACs) and other Child Abuse pediatricians to provide much needed training for medical providers across the state of Oregon to recognize and respond to abuse and neglect in their patients. This model has gained national recognition as an approach to provide early recognition and response to child abuse and neglect and improve outcomes for children and families. In June of 2023, Dr. Lang presented at the National Children’s Alliance Conference and inspired CACs around the country to try this approach to expanding access to state of the art medical care. Our medical providers are also building a strong reputation as regional and national leaders in understanding and responding to the impact of the Fentanyl crisis on children’s health and well-being.

8. Champions for Childhood Gala Success

We had so much fun raising awareness and support for Children’s Center at our 2nd Annual Champions for Childhood Gala. This year, we invited therapy llamas to meet our guests and they made the evening memorable for everyone. We also celebrated all that is wonderful about being a child and encouraged our guests to come dressed as their childhood hero. From Toy Story to Superwoman and Ramona the Great, the room was filled with our favorite heroes! This unforgettable event exceeded our fundraising goal, helping to ensure the stability of our programs for the next year. We can’t wait to see you all again next year- mark your calendar for October 18, 2024!

9. Development and Communications Program is Going Strong!

After undergoing a substantial reduction in staffing during the pandemic era, we are thrilled to rebuild our Development and Communications program. This program is vital to our ongoing sustainability and in fostering relationships with our caring community. As of December 2023, we are excited to now have a Development Director, a Marketing and Communications Specialist, and Development Coordinator. This dynamic team is eager to collaborate with our partners in the community to raise awareness of our services and engage our community in ways that they can help bring our mission to life!

10. More Accessible and Inclusive Services than Ever Before

Our goal over the last three years was to build up our programs so that we can provide services to any child who needs us, as soon as they need us, and for as long as they need us. We now have 31 staff members providing a variety of services and supports to our families. With 4 bilingual Spanish and English speaking staff, we are able to provide even more of our services in a family’s preferred language. We have worked together to create an Equity Lens to use in our decision making and throughout our trauma-informed services, so that each community member feels safe, supported, welcomed, and included.

I enjoyed making this list and am inspired by the incredible staff, board, and community partners that made each of these accomplishments.  Children’s Center is committed to a process of continuous improvement, so it is gratifying to reflect on our year and see so much progress. However, we recognize that this is ongoing work and we will keep improving day to day, month to month, and year to year. I can’t wait to check back in at the end of 2024 to share our next exciting year of change and growth.

Happy New Year!

Karen

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