The heart and soul of SAFEchild’s mission is embedded in the name: Stop Abuse For Every child. The mission of the Raleigh, North Carolina-based nonprofit is to eliminate child abuse and empower families. SAFEchild operates from a strength-based perspective, looking at what is strong, not what is wrong, and approaching situations from that angle.
“When abuse happens, we have to step forward and stop it from ever happening again to any identified child or children in our community,” says Executive Director Cristin DeRonja. “It’s a complex, intentional mission. We look closely at children who suffer adverse experiences, how to prevent that adversity from defining their life or future and intervening to provide treatment that is a re-directional point for both children and families, when needed.”
DeRonja adds that the opportunity to stabilize and secure a family means that a family’s existence and “entire narrative” can change. “It allows children to go to school and perform at their fullest potential. It allows children to develop in ways they should, according to their age and stage in life.
“And it allows adults to be successful in the workplace and in their relationships, be it friends or marriage. It allows adults and children to contribute to our community, to feel anchored by and valued by the community.”
SAFEchild provides programs that range from mentoring parents through a child’s first year of life, parenting classes for different ages and stages and Funny Tummy Feelings, a school-based program aimed at first- and second-graders. Children learn to recognize their emotions and to identify the support people in their lives they can trust and talk to. They’re also taught it’s OK to say no if someone is hurting them or if they are asked to do something that could be hurtful – regardless of whether that person is a stranger or a trusted adult.
In addition to the numerous programs offered, the SAFEchild Advocacy Center serves as a national model for abuse intervention and treatment. “This is where we provide a comprehensive medical evaluation to better understand the trauma a child has experienced and make sure they’re put on a path towards hope and healing and recovery from victimization,” DeRonja says.
As SAFEchild celebrates its 30th anniversary, it also launches phase two of its Champion our Children capital campaign and the construction of a new facility to keep up with demand for services. The 20,000-square-foot building will enable SAFEchild to triple the number of medical evaluations provided yearly and double the number of families reached. “It’s extremely exciting to be able to provide this for our community,” DeRonja says.
And being named an Insperity Community Hero is especially welcome at this juncture, as is the $5,000 donation that comes with the award.
“We consider ourselves a big family at SAFEchild trying to do what we can for children and families,” says Denine Schepperley, finance and human resources manager. “We ask for that commitment from anyone we work with, and Insperity has stepped up big time. Because SAFEchild has been honored as a Community Hero, our staff understands that Insperity is with us. They (Insperity) understand what we’re doing, and they are investing in SAFEchild as an organization.
“Before we had Insperity, we were tangled up in manual processes and didn’t have many HR resources. Joining Insperity was a strategic leap in moving HR and payroll forward,” continues Schepperley. “They’re not just our HR partner, though. They are in it with us, they understand the work that needs to be done, and they’re helping us fulfill our mission.
“As we move forward in an exciting new era, we know Insperity will be walking that walk with us.”
“The future of SAFEchild is bright because of our deep roots in this community,” DeRonja adds. The faith in our mission will continue as we work hard to be solid stewards of those who invest in our success. Our commitment to the health and welfare of the children and families in our community is our commitment to the community.”