Protection Starts Here, Cayman’s grassroots multi-agency child abuse prevention team, recently became the first Caribbean group to host a workshop at the International Symposium on Child Abuse.

The conference, presented by the National Children’s Advocacy Center, was held in Huntsville, Alabama, in late March. The symposium, which is now in its 34th year, provides expert training to professionals in the child maltreatment field.

The Cayman group was one of 1,400 participants from the U.S. and 10 other countries, and nearly 140 presenters delivered more than 150 workshops over four days. Protection Starts Here spoke about the group’s mission on March 20 and how it can serve as a model for other communities.

“Multi-agency work has essentially been understood in one of two ways,” said Carolina Ferreira, deputy director for the Cayman Islands Red Cross and Protection Starts Here coordinator, in a press release.

“On the one hand, you have the work that is being done directly with survivors and families, like the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub or the Child Advocacy Center models. On the other hand, you have those similar to National Safeguarding Boards, which are working on a national level to come up with strategy and policy. Protection Starts Here, however, offers another model for multi-agency work that focuses on prevention and education at the grassroots/community level.”

Protection Starts Here is led by the Cayman Islands Red Cross and consists of representatives from the Health Services Authority, Employee Assistance Programme, Special Needs Foundation Cayman, Ben Hud’s Wisdom Campaign, the Ministry of Education and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.

The group has been working together since 2012, and the work has been supported by Hedge Funds Care Cayman since 2013. Hedge Funds Care provided additional support to send the group to this year’s symposium.

Approximately 30 people attended the Protection Starts Here workshop in Alabama, including Carol Hogue, programs quality assurance specialist for Darkness to Light.

“It was amazing to see the work that is being done on the islands with such a strong collaboration between [non-profit organizations] and law enforcement,” Ms. Hogue said. “Darkness to Light is proud to be a part of the process through their use of Stewards of Children to educate adults on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.”

As well as presenting, members of the Protection Starts Here group attended more than 40 workshops where they furthered their own knowledge and skills.

To learn more about child abuse prevention training and awareness sessions or to book a Darkness to Light course, email [email protected]

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