Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect through Intensive In-Home Services

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect through Intensive In-Home Services

Every day, an average of 19 youth are removed from their homes in Missouri. The events that lead to a child entering foster care are traumatic enough, but the physical removal from their family compounds that trauma for everyone involved. What if families could get help before things escalated to the point their children need to be removed?

Intensive In-Home Services (IIS) are specifically designed to serve families who are experiencing a crisis. Dusty Scheiter, Director of IIS, is a firm believer that prevention is one of the most effective tools at mitigating the effects of abuse and neglect.

“Prevention is essential to keep our children safe, and it goes along with the belief that if you know better, you do better,” she says. “The majority of parents do not start out intending to utilize extreme physical discipline to despair their child verbally or to harm their child in any way; they just lacked a better skill or technique to use at that moment. Prevention is about teaching families and parents new and effective skills so that they have what they need when life gets tough and frustrations arise in our lives.”

Through this 4–6 week program, our team provides 8-10 hours (or more if needed) of individualized immediate services to families directly in their homes. In addition, team members are available to their families 24/7 for additional support and guidance. We have seen so many families turn their lives around just through the simple act of giving them the resources, coaching and space they need to learn how to parent well.

“In IIS, we know the abuse and/or neglect occurred or is a high risk to occur,” says Scheiter. “We focus on increasing the family’s skills and new resources so that abuse or neglect does not happen and the children are safe with their family. I like the quote, ‘Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.’ IIS hopes to leave families better than we found them, and has time and time again!”

As with every organization, COVID-19 threw a wrench in the way we usually do everything, including IIS. However, our team dove headlong into finding new ways to care for the children and families needing preventative care.

“Specialists have been creative with this process by suiting up in personal protective equipment and heading into homes when no symptoms of COVID-19 were present,” Scheiter says. “They also held outdoor visits that have included the car, the front porch, the curb and the park. They have also embraced technology, using programs like Zoom and Webex to connect with our families virtually. Even in a global pandemic, IIS was able to continue working with families and continue making a difference in the lives of children.”

We love getting to see the transformation of families through IIS. However, Programs like this are dependent on public support to keep going. COVID-19 brought many challenges beyond just changing the way we provide services, including financial ones. If you want to support IIS and change the lives of children and families in our community, please consider making a donation.