Beltrami Area Resiliency Team and Leech Lake program earn honors for child abuse prevention work

With April being Child Abuse Awareness Month, the organization FamilyWise Services recognized programs across the state working on the issue, including one from Beltrami County and another from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

BEMIDJI -- The organization FamilyWise Services is honoring programs across Minnesota addressing child abuse as it raises awareness on the issue.

FamilyWise recently announced the Pinwheels for Prevention awards, recognizing partners that help children, families and caregivers. The awards come during April, which is also Child Abuse Prevention Month.

According to a release, the awards honor organizations working to understand the new landscape created by the coronavirus pandemic, and the impacts on child abuse and neglect prevention.

The release noted the risks of children experiencing abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty are high, and that COVID-19 has added stressors to the lives of parents and caregivers. Such as loss of employment, loss of income due to lack of paid leave, school and business closings that necessitate new childcare and homeschool arrangements and food insecurity.

Locally, two programs were honored with the awards. One is the Beltrami Area Resiliency Team, which is working to unite a network of community members to identify and implement strategies that will result in a more resilient community.


The other is the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe's Manidoo Ningadoodem (Family Spirit) program. Manidoo Ningadoodem is the largest, most rigorous, and only evidence-based home-visiting program designed specifically for Native American families, the release said.

"FamilyWise is dedicated to supporting parents and caregivers in building thriving families and creating fertile environments for healthy childhoods through parent education, wraparound services and early childhood education," Ann Gaasch, FamilyWise Services executive director, said in the release. "We do this work in collaboration with a statewide network of committed partners who have provided essential services, assisting families during the isolation and stress of the pandemic."

One of the efforts of the Beltrami Area Resiliency Team is the 100 Cups of Coffee program, where trained interviewers from the organization connect with county residents in one-on-one conversations on how the region can better support the wellbeing of the population.

Another program by the Resiliency Team is Adverse Childhood Experience Training. The program offers workshops to present the impact of adverse childhood experiences and how addressing the issue plays a role in a resilient community.

More than 1,000 Native American families have received services from Manidoo Ningadoodem, which works with families on the Leech Lake Nation and the surrounding 25-mile radius. Objectives of the program include increasing parenting knowledge, addressing maternal psychosocial risks that could interfere with positive child-rearing, and ensuring children get recommended health care.

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