The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse

"We have found that no matter what your background or experience, or what your upbringing is, every parent wants their kid to be successful. Some people go through their childhood and they have the right environment and they go on to raise their children the same way and that’s wonderful. But that’s not the case for everyone." – Kimberly Kochem, Executive Director, Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse

The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse (CPCA) is a human service organization in Dutchess County that works to reduce the incidence of child abuse through education (in both Dutchess and Ulster counties), prevention, and intervention services. Its approach to prevention includes programs that provide training for educators, emergency responders, social workers, and healthcare workers, and educational programs for both parents and children.

The Dyson Foundation has a very strong focus on human services, and the prevention of child abuse and human trafficking fall squarely within this focus. In addition to program support, general operating support, and mini-grant funding over the years, the Dyson Foundation aided the CPCA with funds for their executive search process. Grants to CPCA fall within the Health & Safety Net and Strengthening Nonprofits themes.

“CPCA is most traditionally known for the Child Advocacy Center, which investigates all instances of sexual assault and severe physical abuse of children in Dutchess County,” says Executive Director Kimberly Kochem. “So when people think of CPCA, they think of connections to law enforcement and a sort of regulatory capacity. But what a lot of people don’t know is that we do a lot of front-end prevention work to ensure that children don’t end up over in the Child Advocacy Center.”

The CPCA’s youngest clients come through the Personal Safety Program, which educates children from pre-school through middle school about how to keep their bodies safe, how to protect themselves if someone makes them uncomfortable, and what to do if something happens to them. This program serves over 16,000 school children and 1,600 educators annually.

The CPCA also offers a variety of parenting training programs, including the Parent Empowerment Program, which builds skills and increases knowledge of child development, the Special Needs Parenting Program, which is targeted towards developmentally disabled parents, and the Teen Parenting Program, which addresses the needs of teen parents and soon-to-be parents ages 13-21, both male and female.

“We might be the first people who sit down with these teens and say, what do you want to do? You’re feeling a lot of pressure from all directions, but what is your plan? There’s a little coaching and a little guidance around expectations, but it’s an empowerment process for these teens to switch from kids to parents. That’s a very powerful moment for them,” says Kochem.

The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is the intervention arm of the CPCA and it brings Child Protective Services, law enforcement, and other service providers together under one roof to meet the needs of child victims of abuse and families undergoing investigation. All cases of severe child abuse, child sexual abuse, and all child fatalities are investigated through the CAC. This collaborative response reduces trauma to the child victim and increases prosecution of child sex offenders. In 2017, 648 unduplicated children were served by the CAC team.

“Our Personal Safety Program works with children to hopefully prevent this from happening, and to make this a larger dialogue, and not keep it secret,” says Kochem. “We work on rebuilding parents, not only to be a better parent to that child, but to be a better parent to themselves. For the people we help, our staff become more than teachers. They become family, and that connection is one of the intangible goals. When there is someone who has nobody to turn to, the CPCA is there. We’re there when they fall down and mistakes are made, and we’re there to support and celebrate their successes.”