In Washington State, the budget cut is reducing funding for First Steps, the state program for educating indigent parents about child abuse prevention and coping strategies, by 20%. Child abuse cases are expected to rise during economic hardship. Early intervention with parental education focusing on child abuse prevention has been proven to be a very effective method for reducing the incidence of child abuse. Because of the budget cut many of the state’s parents will not receive education about how to prevent child abuse and the deadly injuries of child abuse. This budget cut comes at a crucial time, with the economic downturn; the number of child abuse cases is expected to increase. Some counties in different states are already reporting increased volume of calls to report child abuse and an increase in child abuse cases.
The current program reaches a portion of eligible parents, with the budget cut many eligible parents will not receive the education needed to prevent child abuse. Staff and resources will be reduced. The First Steps program sends nurses to homes of parents to educate about child abuse and appropriate methods of discipline. It also teaches effective coping strategies for raising children. Information including brochures, videos and other teaching materials cover subjects such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.