Cullman Caring for Kids Assistant Director Nancy Bryant and Director Javon Daniel pose for a photo this week. (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)
CULLMAN – On Thursday of this week, United Way agency Cullman Caring for Kids (CCK) and The Cullman Tribune entered into a partnership to expand the CCK’s reach to the community and further its mission of preventing child abuse.
CCK Director Javon Daniel said, “I think the important thing is to get the word out about who we are and what we do, and our mission. Our mission has been, since the very founding of Cullman Caring for Kids in 1988, has been child abuse prevention and awareness. And that still is our major mission. Now, we do it through different areas, but that’s still our mission, and that’s to prevent child abuse.
“We can keep kids from going to bed hungry. We can advocate through our CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program for kids who are in the court system for abuse and neglect. And through our radio program every week, we are able to reach more people to talk about things that are children and family issues.
“By partnering with The Tribune, we hope to increase this awareness to a point that it’s never, never been.”
More than a food bank
When people think of CCK, the term “food bank” often comes to mind, and with good reason: the organization distributes 8 to 10 tons of food per month to families in need. But how does a child advocacy group get into the grocery business?
Daniel responded, “If you have a hungry 2- or 3-year-old child, there’s no food in the house, and you have no idea where that food to feed that child is going to come from, that child is crying, and they’re grumpy, and they’re fussy. And if we can prevent one parent from being angry enough to strike that child, then the food bank has accomplished what we set out to do.
“It’s a preventative, it’s a proactive, stance. And this happens a lot. Children are abused, especially younger children, when they’re not happy, and the parents have gone to their wits’ end and they just have to do something. We offer the alternative that, hey, you can come in here and we can give you enough food to last you for several days, to help you past that point.
“That one child may later wind up in the court system or in the DHR system. And if we can prevent that, that’s what we’re here for.”
CCK’s other programs include:
CASA-Court Appointed Special Advocates
Trained volunteers are assigned to specific cases by courts and conduct independent investigations into cases of abuse, to do whatever is in a child's best interest.
Daniel described CASA volunteers as “the eyes and ears for the judge, because the judge cannot get out and do that in every case. But, more importantly, I think, is that they become the voice for the child, because children have very little to say about custody cases and abuse cases. It’s just important that they know that they have somebody who, their only purpose is to be there for that child. We don’t work for DHR; we don’t work for the attorneys. We are there as volunteers to help that child to get into a safe, permanent home as soon as possible.”
Radio shows on Fridays (WKUL 92.1, 9:30 a.m.), Saturdays (WKUL’s Praise Radio 97.9, 8:30 a.m.) and Sundays (WRJL 99.9, 3 p.m.) address child abuse prevention to a regional market of more than one million potential listeners. Some topics might be uncomfortable to talk about, but Daniel insists that no worthwhile subject is off the table if its discussion can help stop or prevent abuse.
Said Daniel, “Kids do matter, and what they think, and what they’re experiencing, and what they’re going through does matter. What we try to do is we try to talk about children and family issues every week that will help those listeners to get as good information as we can possibly give them about a given situation or subject. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite part, but it’s way up on the list, because I like to talk! But it’s very important.”
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