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Read more about our Policy Priorities.

Prevention with Policy

Upstream graphic

At Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina, we believe that the greatest impact can be made by prioritizing “upstream” prevention in policy and practice. When we invest upstream in public policies that build strong families and safe communities, we are securing the safe, stable, nurturing environments all children deserve. 

Success in school and increased graduation rates lead to healthier, more productive future employees and ultimately reduce costs in our social services, criminal justice, educational and health care systems. Extreme and repetitive childhood adversity, such as child maltreatment, can alter brain development and have lifelong harmful impacts on both physical and emotional well-being. Many Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), such as abuse and neglect, can be prevented.

Our Top Policy Priorities

Every child is filled with tremendous promise – and we have a shared obligation to foster their potential. That means shoring up the ways we support families. Every policy we set – from tax credits to paid leave – should reduce financial pressures on families and increase the time and capacity for supportive family relationships.

Invest in Family Support Programs

Implement Family-Friendly Workplace Policies

Build Families’ Financial Stability

Invest in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

Increase Investments in Family Support Programs

A Family Resource Center (FRC) is defined by the National Family Support Network (NFSN) is “a community or school-based welcoming hub of support, services, and opportunities for families,” FRCs have been linked to reduction in foster care placements, substantiated reports of child abuse, and emergency room use. They have also been linked to increase family economic stability, healthy child development, emotional well-being, parental skills, social connections, and child literacy.

Parenting education can be delivered in a home setting (home visiting) or group setting (parenting education groups). Home visiting programs help parents gain basic parenting skills by matching new families with trained providers, such as nurses, social workers, or parent educators. Similarly, group-based parenting education increases the skills and knowledge of parenting and child development but in a setting outside of the home. Evidence- based parenting education, whether delivered in the home or in a group setting, has been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect.

See the section below on our qualitative study to learn more about NC policymakers’ perspectives on family support programs.

Home Visiting and Parenting Education What is MIECHV? Forward with Hope: Home Visiting and Parenting Education 

Implement Family-Friendly Policies and Programs in the Workplace that Support and Strengthen Families

Family-friendly workplace policies improve the balance between work and family while ensuring family economic security. Policies that promote family economic security such as paid family and medical leave are associated with significantly higher rates of breastfeeding and maternal health, reductions in hospitalizations for abusive head trauma, and lower rates of family stressors and risk factors for child abuse and neglect.

Paid Family and Medical Leave Safe Days and Kin Care Forward with Hope: Paid Family and Medical Leave

Build Families' Financial Stability and Economic Mobility

Empowering families to meet their basic needs of food, shelter, and medical care by strengthening household financial stability is proven to reduce the risk factors for child abuse and neglect. Policies that increase the economic self-sufficiency of families alleviate some parental stress and help establish a stable household—two factors that can help protect children from abuse and neglect.

Poverty is not neglect. It is critical for supports to be in place that build families’ financial stability and economic mobility so that they can provide their children with safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments.

Read our Economic Supports white paper for an in-depth exploration of the impacts of economic supports — including access to affordable, high-quality early childcare, and access to affordable healthcare through Medicaid expansion — could have on families across North Carolina and beyond.

Economic Supports White Paper Earned Income Tax Credit ARPA Economic Policies Build Strong Families

Invest in a Comprehensive Strategy for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse (CSA) can cause serious damage to the cognitive, social, and emotional development of a child. North Carolina must expand the focus of preventing CSA to include the prevention of institutional CSA through funded initiatives rather than unfunded mandates. With funding, we can implement initiatives that provide evidence-informed CSA prevention education.

This includes prevention in schools and youth-serving organizations and assistance to these entities to implement and institutionalize safe child policies and practices that include training employees and volunteers and enabling parents to learn about child sexual abuse and its prevention; developing codes of conduct; screening prospective employees and volunteers; and reporting and responding appropriately to boundary violations and suspected or disclosed cases of child sexual abuse.

Learn More about CSA CSA Facts CSA Prevention

Our Qualitative Study — Forward with Hope: Policymaker Perspectives on Child Maltreatment Prevention in NC

PCANC’s policy and evaluation teams conducted a qualitative study in two phases: a pilot in 2020-2021 with local policymakers, and a full study in 2021-2022 with local and state policymakers. This project aimed to investigate these policymakers’ understandings of the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect, as well as specific policies, with the goal of building knowledge and recommendations to help bridge this gap.

The interviews uncovered barriers to enacting policies that support families in thriving and protect children from childhood adversity, as well as the potential paths forward for enacting more of these types of policies and programs. A particular focus was on family support programs, such as home visiting and parenting education, and family-friendly workplace policies, such as paid family and medical leave.


Additional Policies of Interest


The Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) is a federal law that provides grants to states to support the prevention, assessment, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and neglect. While the majority of federal dollars for child abuse and neglect support foster care services, CAPTA supports front-end services that prevent system involvement and keeps families together whenever safely possible.

Title II of CAPTA creates the Community Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) program that supports community-driven efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect through coordinating resources and strengthening families.

CAPTA is due for reauthorization by US Congress. We are aligned with Prevent Child Abuse America’s position in that we support a strong and comprehensive reauthorization bill that includes significantly higher funding levels, increases transparency and accountability in the program, increases the focus on primary prevention and family support services, and promotes race equality. 

The Protective Factors

The Strengthening Families Protective Factors are research-based conditions or attributes that promote positive outcomes for children and families including reductions in child maltreatment. PCANC’s policy priorities are rooted in protective factors.

These 5 protective factors are:

Our Positions

As a statewide organization committed to nurturing positive childhoods for all, Positive Childhood Alliance North Carolina strongly opposes the use of any violence against children, including corporal punishment in our schools. Abolishing statutes permitting physical discipline in North Carolina schools aligns with scientific evidence that underscores its adverse impact on a child’s development and ultimately, our state’s future prosperity.

Our Work, In Partnership

Positive Childhood Alliance NC (PCANC) works closely with our statewide partners to support policies that strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment. Our policy priorities align with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Technical Packages to Prevent Violence, including the Essentials for Childhood framework. We also prioritize strategies and goals in the NC Early Childhood Action Plan.

PCANC is a proud member of the Think Babies™ NC Alliance Leadership Team. The Think Babies™ NC Alliance seeks to ensure that North Carolina’s youngest children, prenatal to age 3, benefit from effective and equitable public policies, programs, and funding so that all children have what they need to thrive: healthy beginnings, supported families, and quality early care and learning experiences.  Learn more and get involved.

For more information on our Policy work, please contact PCANC Policy Director Melissa Clepper-Faith, mclepper-faith@preventchildabusenc.org