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The Align Coalition

Experts in their fields combining efforts to improve their communities child welfare

For our Little Rock Program we worked to identify and recruit experts in the following cross-sector categories to form our Align Coalition

  • Child Care
  • Child maltreatment fatality
  • Child maltreatment
  • Disability Services
  • Domestic Violence
  • Elder abuse
  • Foster care
  • Homelessness
  • Homicide/police department
  • Illicit drug use
  • Infant mortality, Premature Birth
  • Injury-related fatality
  • Juvenile justice
  • Low 3rd-grade reading proficiency
  • Maternal morbidity / mortality
  • Mental health
  • Poverty
  • Prison recidivism
  • Sex trafficking
  • Suicide
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Violent crimes

The coalition’s top areas of focus:

  • Determine the top 6 outcomes / topics for prevention focus in Little Rock
  • Develop standard awareness of the problems and evidence-based solutions
  • Discover opportunities to fill gaps in institutional policy, protocols
  • Identify material needs: opportunities and distribution

To accomplish this, fifteen outcomes were considered while analyzing risk and protective factors, environmental contributors to risk and protection, and early and late warning signs for each.

During this process, best available evidence-based or evidence-informed prevention programs are identified and determination on how using existing administrative data for outcome measurement is considered.

The following 6 topics for prevention in Little Rock were determined:

  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Infant mortality
  • Suicide
  • Teen birth
  • Violent crime
  • Chronic absenteeism

Faith-based Involvement

PAP identified faith organizations in risk category 5 and invited their leadership to meet and discuss the PAP program for Little Rock in preparation for our community initiative.

This was an incredible opportunity to bring vital community leaders together in a common pursuit. This group had never met before and were unaware of what adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) were.

PAP shared knowledge and gained the support of influential community members who can be called upon to help ensure our continued efforts for the Little Rock program are a success.

Little Rock's Community Voice

Please see report here

PAP partnered with a Graduate Capstone Team at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Master of Public Administration program to record and analyze resident and service provider attitudes and perceptions around child maltreatment in high-risk areas determined during our geospatial analysis.

The Capstone team conducted focus groups to acquire the voice of the community and used these findings and review of past literature to recommend five policy interventions for proactive child maltreatment prevention.

This information will be used while PAP and DCFS work to create a comprehensive strategy to best distribute services and work with city leaders and community service providers to leverage resources.

Community Members Perceptions

According to community members, the biggest challenges faced by their community are:

  • Lack of sidewalks and street lights
  • Violence: rapes, domestic violence, general fighting, gun violence
  • Food insecurity
  • Homeless population
  • Divided community: lack of community activities or cohesion
  • Poverty
  • Low paying jobs

When community members were asked:
What is the most important thing in preventing child deaths and maltreatment?

They shared:

Provide parents the education needed to help their children thrive.

Social Service Provider Perceptions

According to area social service providers, the largest challenges faced by their community (University District) were:

  • Availability / affordability of healthy foods
  • Lack of support for individuals with special needs
  • Lack of community cohesion, especially across racial lines
  • Inadequate social support services

Social service providers shared:

A major issue in the community is a lack of knowledge concerning proper nutrition and difficulty in accessing and affording healthy foods within the community’s boundaries.

Child Care Service Provider Perceptions

According to child care service providers, the biggest challenges faced in their community are low socioeconomic status and homelessness

A common theme child care providers shared when discussing personal knowledge and interpretations of child maltreatment was:

Personal biases in interpreting whether an action constitutes maltreatment

Dependency Neglect Attorney Perceptions

According to dependency neglect attorneys, the largest challenges faced by the clients they serve were:

  • Inadequate social support services
  • Poverty
  • Food insecurity
  • Lack of feeling secure / safe

Every Dependency Neglect Attorney interviewed shared co-sleeping, in their experience, caused the most infant death, with drugs frequently being involved - often marijuana

All four focus groups identified poverty as the top community challenge, with most groups also including homelessness and food insecurity.

The groups were unanimous in their recommendations for preventing child maltreatment and death. They emphasized the need for parental education, social support services, and community interconnectivity to alert others to potential maltreatment and provide opportunities for children to grow and thrive.

Focus Group


Capstone Team


Using the CDC’s five strategy framework for preventing child abuse and neglect the University of Arkansas Capstone team provided the following recommendations based on community input and research.

Strengthen economic support to families

  • Partner campus-based TRIO educational opportunity programs with Immerse Arkansas to provide resources for youth in their programs to get kids off the streets and into arenas where they can thrive.
  • Educate parents regarding available financial assistance for their family (SNAP, Emergency Food Assistance Program, Childcare Subsidies, Foreclosure Prevention and Mortgage Assistance).
  • Increase parents’ access to resources before the case becomes court involved.
  • Provide laminated resource cards to students at school, and in community centers.
  • Create a resource book that can be copied and made available at public libraries, courts, churches, and hospitals.
  • Develop bus passes to be given to low-income and high-need residents through non-profit organizations, such as Immerse, to offset the cost of bus fare and assist with transportation needs for the most at-risk populations in Little Rock.
  • Increase access to income-based level billing programs for utilities in the winter months for residents.
  • Change policies to encourage Farm to School programs and sustainable gardens for areas with food insecurity.

Change social and legal norms to support parents and positive parenting

  • Any parenting classes that are offered, either voluntarily or through court orders, should have child care options built into their programs for parents who already have children, and should have flexible class schedules.
  • Increase in low-cost or free after-school programs for children and teens.
  • Advertise mental health screenings and social services within the city.
  • Provide education on the definition of child maltreatment in lay terms (for example, laminated cards that say “did you know that leaving your child alone at 4 is child neglect?”).
  • Give parents legal immunity for coming forward to receive services.

Provide quality care and education early in life

  • Change policy to make Pre-K free and mandatory for all children in the state.
  • Increase the availability of quality, affordable daycare options.
  • Align bus routes with daycare options for ease of transportation.

Enhance parenting skills to promote healthy child development

  • Develop and support community centers and nonprofits (such as MidSouth and Children International) that provide accessible programming for new parents and families, including mental and behavioral health care options.
  • Partner with local hospitals and doctors offices for referral programs for pregnant mother education and continuing education for new mothers.
  • Include classes for new fathers, continuing education workshops for fathers looking for parenting advice, and Dad Support Groups.
  • Educate parents on best practices for parenting (risks of co-sleeping, importance of stress management, how to feed kids healthy meals on budget).
  • Create policies/programs in schools, churches, community centers, and hospitals that educate the community on best parenting practices.

Intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk

  • Add sidewalks to connect neighborhoods to each other and to resources (schools, churches, grocery stores).
  • Add & better maintain street lights to deter potential crime.
  • Partner with local domestic violence shelter (Women & Children First) to develop community intervention strategies and workshops on conflict mediation.
  • Create a state-wide program similar to Different Response (DR) that can be offered to parents before a hotline call is made.
  • Have dependency neglect attorneys track more child maltreatment data outcomes; such as reason for removal, reason for adjudication of dependency neglect, outcomes for disposition, grounds for TPR petition, and then reason for termination of parental rights.

Change Readiness

For the complete survey details, click here

In preparation for our community engagement, PAP conducted a change readiness survey with our Align Coalition and faith organization group leaders to identify potential roadblocks and discover what possible root causes of change resistance might be.

Community Attitude Towards Change is of particular importance to ensure change acceptance for program initiatives...

Our surveyed group felt 50 % of the community would feel the change brought on by the program was beneficial at an individual level, while 70% felt the community would see the change as beneficial at the community level.

When asked if they felt the community is open to change and receptive versus guarded? Our group was 50% undecided.


Particular attention should be given to identifying community communication channels for program change to ensure groups who will be impacted are notified, educated and feedback is actively solicited with any concerns being addressed. This process will help to provide the greatest program initiative change acceptance for the city of Little Rock.

While developing the change communication plan:

  • Ensure objectives align with the prevention strategy goals
  • Identify what desired behaviors are
  • Stay true to the core prevention message while addressing audience specific messaging needs
  • Develop formal and informal two-way feedback channels which are actively responded to
  • Design measurement and evaluation of change communication efforts which allow for rapid adjustments

Click to Continue to Recommendations Section


  • Daley D., Bachmann M., Bachmann B.A., Pedigo C., Bui. M.T., & Coffman J. (2016). Risk terrain modeling predicts child maltreatment. Child Abuse Neglect. 62:29-38. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.09.014. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213416301922
  • Predict Align Prevent (2019). Richmond, Virginia Technical Report. https://b9157c41-5fbe-4e28-8784-ea36ffdbce2f.filesusr.com/ugd/fbb580_2f1dda2ff6b84f32856bc95d802d6629.pdf
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