BCBSM Foundation awards $116,000 to Michigan Organizations Promoting Child Wellbeing and Preventing Abuse and Neglect Before it Happens

Jake Newby

| 5 min read

CapAn estimated 600,000 U.S. children were victims of abuse and neglect in 2021, according to the National Children’s Alliance, which notes that kids in their first year of life account for 15% of all victims. More than a quarter (28%) of child maltreatment victims are 2 years old or younger.
Abuse occurs in many forms; it can be physical, emotional or sexual. Neglect occurs when a guardian fails to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs, which includes housing, food, education and health care access. Between 2022 and 2023, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) Foundation awarded $116,000 in grant funds to Michigan non-profits committed to child abuse awareness and prevention.
In addressing this crucial issue, here’s what these organizations were able to accomplish. 
Credit: Washtenaw Area Council for Children

Child advocacy centers across Michigan work to increase community awareness in their areas 

The Voices for Children Advocacy Center serves as a voice and an advocate for children throughout Flint, Genesee County and Shiawassee County. The outfit received $40,000 and used it to decrease child abuse, neglect, human trafficking, and witness to violence in its area through education and increased community awareness and action.
In the spirit of this awareness month, it's crucial for us to be steadfast in our efforts to eliminate child abuse,” said Claudnyse Holloman, Voices of Children president. “Thanks to the generous grant from the Foundation, we've been able to educate over 5,000 children and 2,000 adults on recognizing and preventing child abuse, neglect, human trafficking, and exposure to violence in Genesee and Shiawassee counties.”
Credit: Isabella County Child Advocacy Center
In central lower Michigan, Isabella County Child Advocacy Center (ICCAC) brings community agency professionals together to work in a collaborative approach that results in effective, efficient and child-centered case work. The BCBSM Foundation awarded ICCAC a $10,000 to help them increase access to child abuse and neglect prevention education in Isabella County.
“Since the grant was initiated, its funding has been instrumental in advancing child abuse prevention programs,” said ICCAC Prevention Educator, Alicia Crowe. “At the close of the 2023-24 school year, over 1,200 first and third graders will have received crucial education on body safety, empowering them with knowledge to protect themselves. Additionally, the grant has expanded the availability of programs within the community, ensuring that more families have access to resources and support in preventing child abuse.”
Credit: Isabella County Child Advocacy Center

Putting an emphasis on body safety training

Two Michigan non-profits in particular focused some of their Community Health Matching Grant funds on Body Safety Training (BST), which is an evidence-based program that helps prevent child abuse and promoting healthy relationships. Through these trainings, children learn about their bodies, which physical interactions are appropriate or inappropriate and personal boundaries. BST empowers kids with knowledge and strategies so they can play a role in helping to keep their bodies safe.
Washtenaw Area Council for Children’s $19,500 grant went toward expanding, growing, and reinforcing its BST program. WACC worked to expand the scope and availability of abuse prevention education for Head Start and state-funded preschool programs in its county.
Credit: Washtenaw Area Council for Children
“The mission of the Washtenaw Area Council for Children is to promote child wellbeing and prevent child abuse and neglect before it happens,” said WACC Executive Director Tim Richey. “We were very happy to partner with the BCBSM Foundation to educate young people ages 3-8 through our evidence-based Body Safety Training program, which is proven to instill critical lessons and techniques in kids for staying safe from bodily and sexual harm. Thanks to the Foundation, we were able to educate over 3,000 girls and boys across Washtenaw County in critical lessons that will help them stay strong, safe, and resilient for years to come.”
Northern Michigan Children’s Assessment Center (NMCAC) invested its $1,500 grant into its “Outreach and Body Safety Project,” which helped support for child abuse prevention and awareness programs to staff at schools, daycare centers, physician offices, and other child-focused agencies.
“With the funds that we received from BCBSM we were able to purchase outreach supplies that we use during events such as bookmarks, coloring books, bracelets, and activity supplies,” said Casey Nowlin, administrative assistant with NMCAC, which set up shop at the Otsego County Family Fun Fair on April 20 to promote its services.
“We were there to educate the community on body safety and the services provided by the NMCAC,” Nowlin added.

Other organizations that made a difference in their communities

Lansing’s Willow Tree Family Center was awarded a $20,000 grant in November of 2022 to address child abuse and neglect through increasing parenting support for at-risk families through education and wraparound services in Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties. Wraparound services are collaborative, family-centered programs that provide coordinated and individualized behavioral health care services to children and youth.
The Ionia Montcalm Secure and Friendly Environment Child Advocacy Center – which serves families in the Mid-Michigan – increased child abuse awareness among kindergarten through fourth-grade students, their families, and teachers in Ionia and Montcalm schools with its $20,000 grant.
Credit: Northern Michigan Children's Assessment Center
In a grant that is now closed, the Otsego County Child Welfare Alliance put $5,000 toward support for child abuse prevention and awareness programs, the needs of families, and mandated reporter training, which provides mandatory and voluntary reporters the information and tools necessary to identify and report concerns of child abuse and neglect to the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services.
“Child abuse and neglect can have a tremendously negative effect on lifelong health, making it an urgent public health issue to address,” said BCBSM Senior Program Officer, Myra Tetteh. “There is always more work to be done to keep our children safe, but we’re proud of the outcomes these invaluable organizations have achieved over the past two years.”
Photo credit: Northern Michigan Children’s Assessment Center; The Voices for Children Advocacy Center; Isabella County Child Advocacy Center; Washtenaw Area Council for Children
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MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association