(Oct. 10, 2018) Catherine Read interviews Leah Fraley, Executive Director of Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN). SCAN works to ensure that every child in Northern Virginia grows up in a safe, stable, nurturing family, with the supports that they need to contribute to stronger communities today, and as adults in the future. Their mission is to promote the well-being of children, improve parent-child relations and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Since 1988, SCAN has worked hard to accomplish their mission through three primary activities. The first is to educate the public about the scope, nature and consequences of child abuse and neglect, and the importance of positive, nurturing parenting. The second is to provide direct parent education opportunities, and the third is to advocate for the children in the community, the legislature and the courts. This effort requires them to collaborate with many community partners; and SCAN always aims to meet parents where they are in the community so that programming is accessible to all who need it.
For example SCAN’s parenting education classes are offered at a variety of locations throughout the region. SCAN will provide either childcare for children under the age of four, or will offer parallel programming for school aged children, designed to help them build strong relationships with their parents and siblings. These classes are aimed at improving family communication and help parents and children both develop skills to deal with challenges and stressors that can lead to abusive behaviors.
SCAN builds strong relationships with those in the public sector, including schools, the court system and the local government agencies, to deliver their services to those in need. They aim to be a resource to anyone who thinks that there is a child in trouble, and is happy to offer guidance and best practices to those who need help in getting families the needed supports.
Fraley points out that our region is unique in that we have a very multi-cultural region. There are families who come here from many different places, and bring their own way of life with them. This requires flexibility and understanding that there is more than one way to do things. She stresses that the programs that they offer give people of all cultures an opportunity to improve their family relationships in both small and large ways.
Recently, they have worked with refugee families who are being reunified after spending much time apart. Some parents have not seen their children in years, and need to get to first get to know their child again. They may have been good at parenting a 10 year old, but if has been years since they were together and the child is now a teenager, the parents will have different challenges ahead of them. Additionally, the child might be upset that the parent left them behind. SCAN aims at helping these families navigate this difficult process and learn to function in their new environment.
Fraley notes that SCAN is an organization that is run primarily by volunteers, who do everything from run classes, work with Court Appointed Special Advocacy Programs, provide childcare and transportation, and advocate on the local and state level for changes to improve our system. On November 3rd SCAN is holding its annual Toast to Hope event in Springfield to bring the community of volunteers and donors together to raise money for the cause. More information can be found on the website if you are interested in supporting SCAN or becoming a volunteer.