A Call For Action

On September 28, Fayetteville Observer hosted a Child Abuse Forum.  The Panelists included Brenda Jackson, Cumberland’s DSS director; Michael Becketts, assistant secretary at state DHHS; District Attorney Billy West; Rick Glazier, director of N.C. Justice Center; Michelle Hughes, director of NC Child; and police Sgt. Peggy Smith, who investigates crimes against children. Panelists covered a lot of ground in just over an hour. Most important was the point that child abuse and neglect is not a DSS problem, or a Raleigh problem. It belongs to all of us. If you suspect that a child could be in danger but do nothing about it, it’s on you. If you support local or state leaders who don’t consider abuse prevention a priority, with the funding to back it up, it’s on you. If we as a community don’t wage war on domestic violence, opioid addiction, poverty, lack of education, lack of alcohol treatment and lack of mental health services, guess what: It’s on us.

Fayetteville Observer Articles:

Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework

In 2013, a group of community members came together to answer the question, “What if we could create a system in Cumberland County that makes a suite of prevention & intervention parent education and family support services available for all children and their families?” The Team is known as SOAR which stands for – Strengths in Overcoming Adversity thru Resiliency.

Cumberland County is a part of a collective movement to ensure that all families and children lead healthy and prosperous lives, and the Strengthening Families Approach and Protective Factors Framework can guide the work to achieve this vision. Strengthening Families supports a common framework across multiple sectors for a national, state, regional, and local response to enhance family supports through an assets-based approach.

Our journey has been guided by the wisdom, knowledge and experience of individuals who have helped us lay the groundwork, frame our approach, facilitate our discussions, and inform our recommendations.

Community Child Abuse Prevention Plan

On November 20, 2017, the SOAR Team unveiled the Community Child Abuse Prevention Plan to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

We have a vision – that vision is to make Cumberland County a safe and stable community where children are nurtured and families thrive.

Our mission is to educate, empower, and support families so they are able to provide nurturing homes for their children.

We will choose a course for change that will lead to the mutually reinforcing outcomes of:

  • Optimal Child Development
  • Increased Family Strengths
  • A Responsive Service System
  • A Decrease in Child Abuse and Neglect

Our Community Child Abuse Prevention Plan is around Sound Science, Strong Families, and Stronger Services. The plan provides a guiding framework and an overview of child maltreatment as a public health concern and opportunities for improving prevention efforts. Most important, as a living document, it provides a shared vision, strategic goals and strategic objectives to guide prevention efforts in Cumberland County. Our plan is framed around 6 strategy areas. The plan steers the efforts of prevention partners and will be use as a vehicle for promoting community dialogue, problem solving and planning at the local level.

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Vision Statement
Cumberland County is a safe and stable community, where children are nurtured and families thrive.

Mission Statement

Educate, empower, and support families so they are able to provide nurturing homes for their children.

Problem Statement
The complex structure of the existing delivery system acts as a barrier to accessing care and support services for parents and children with increasingly complex needs who would benefit most from greater coordination and communication across the spectrum of providers.


  1. Build the capacity of parents and prevention partners to understand, deliver, evaluate and advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect.
  2. Cultivate beneficial prevention-focused partnerships to create a shared language, build efficiency and extend reach.


  • Child maltreatment is 100% preventable.
  • Child maltreatment is under reported.
  • Our children and communities are better served by preventing child maltreatment then dealing with the effects of child maltreatment.
  • Prevention of child maltreatment requires a continuum of strategies to make positive change. Child abuse prevention takes individual, organization and community support and a strategic framework of programs.

Actionable Cross Cutting Strategies for Large-Scale Progress

  • Build nurturing community bringing coherence, sustainability, and consistently higher performance.
  • Cultivate expanded prevention-focused partnerships to implement a shared vision, engage in shared action, and strengthen networks and partnerships.
  • Focus on protective factors in families so that all children who live here will have the safe, stable, nurturing environments they deserve.
  • Influence community with a continuum of prevention evidence based or evidence informed strategies at the societal, community, family and individual levels.
  • Network with prevention partners in all sectors of the community to embrace the role they can play to strengthen families and keep children safe.
  • Act collectively to maximize the effectiveness of prevention efforts to ensure optimal child development, increased family strengths, a responsive service system and a decrease in child abuse and neglect.

SOAR Action Teams

The groundwork has been laid. Now, the hard work begins. The next steps are to form action learning teams. There are three key priorities addressed by Three Actions Teams.

Action Team Family Engagement Community Training Data Learning
Key Priorities Raise Awareness of Resources Empower Enduring Cadre of Champions Demonstrate Impact of Our Work
Objective 1 Recruit Parents

Recruit parents and include parent representatives on soar and actively seek their input .

SOAR Logo and Tagline

Create a logo and tagline that uniquely identifies the community child abuse prevention plan.

Continuum of Services

Map coninuum of services.

Objective 2 Leadership Pathways

Develop leadership pathways that support family engagement and leadership.

SOAR 90 x 30 Website

Create direct web links to SOAR 90×30 homepage from all partnered agencies and organizations.

Family Needs Assessment:

Identify needs and priorities to accessing resources,

Objective 3 Empower Parents:

Host parent café training institute by June 30, 2018 for approximately 8 teams of four (28-32 individuals) made up of parent leaders (2) and local agency staff (2).

SOAR Endorsement

100 organization endorsed the SOAR 90 x 30 plan.

SOAR Outcomes

Establish SOAR 90 x 30 plan outcomes and metrics that align with/contribute to those of the soar initiative

Objective 4 Empower Parents:

16 parent cafes will run allowing 160 parents to have their own conversations about keeping their families strong through the protective factor by June 30, 2019.

Understanding of ACEs

5,000 individuals will view the 1-hour resilience: the biology of stress & the science of hope to increase the understanding of the impact of ACEs.


Community Indicators

Establish community indicators to track whether the community is moving in the right direction.

Objective 5 Empower Practitioners

Empower 200 practitioners from 50 in protective factors training and/or community resiliency model training.

Stakeholder Meetings


Become a SOAR Partner. Join this network of diverse early learning and education, public agency, policy, philanthropic and business leaders working across disciplines, sectors and systems.