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North Texas Leads the State in Child Abuse. Together, We Can Prevent It.

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, discover how you can be part of our work to keep children safe and healthy.

March 28, 2024

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, an opportunity to call attention to the tens of thousands of incidents of child abuse reported every year in our community.

Throughout this important month of awareness, we’re calling on all North Texans to learn more about the prevalence of child abuse and neglect in our community, to help us raise awareness of this important issue and to join our efforts to prevent child maltreatment of every kind.

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we’ve identified education, income and health as the building blocks of opportunity. Child abuse prevention is one important component of our work that touches on all three of these areas—because a stable, loving home provides a foundation for children to live a healthy life, succeed in school and go on to achieve financial stability.

In honor of National Child Abuse Prevention Month, let’s take a look at the state of child abuse in Texas, how United Way of Metropolitan Dallas works to prevent child maltreatment and how you can get involved in this important work.

Child Abuse is on the Rise in North Texas

Although last year brought a sliver of good newschild fatalities decreased 34% between 2020 and 2023—unfortunately, there were still nearly 50,000 unique victims of child abuse reported in Texas last year.

How does our region fare? In 2022, more than 9,000 North Texas children were served by Child Protective Services (CPS). In 2023, that number rose to more than 11,000—far more than any of the state’s other metro areas. Unfortunately, these numbers are headed in the wrong direction.

These figures all indicate that our entire North Texas community must do more to prevent child abuse and neglect before it ever begins.

United Way Prevents Child Abuse and Neglect

At United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, we provide support services and educational resources to parents to foster healthy, caring home lives. Together with our committed supporters, we give parents the tools and knowledge they need to ward off child abuse and neglect before it ever happens.

United Way has been the lead organization on home visiting in Dallas County since 2012. Each year, we serve thousands of caregivers in North Texas with parental education and support programming. Our work aims to empower parents and eliminate common parenting stressors that increase the risk for child abuse and neglect.

Two of our programs focus specifically on supporting families with young children:

Healthy Outcomes Through Prevention and Early Support (HOPES): HOPES helps local parents create home environments in which young children can thrive. Working with clinics, organizations and government agencies, the program seeks to reduce instances of child maltreatment by helping improve parenting skills through instruction, support and connections to community resources.

Texas Home Visiting Program (THVP): THVP supports people in becoming great parents. This free program for soon-to-be-parents and those with children under the age of 5 matches Dallas and Collin County families with a trained home visitor—a nurse, experienced parent, trained professional or volunteer—to answer questions, offer advice, provide support and teach parents how to prepare their kids for kindergarten.

During our last fiscal year, 955 local families participated in a home visiting program through HOPES or THVP, and 1,750 North Texans attended early childhood development community events to learn more about their children’s key milestones.

Programs like HOPES and THVP offer a variety of benefits to parents, children and the community as a whole. For example, preventing child abuse saves our state significant amounts of money. Serving a single child in the foster care system for a year costs the state of Texas $17,290, which is 17 times the amount our child abuse prevention programming costs to serve one family.

HOPES and THVP also have a profound impact on new parents, as well as any family that experiences stressful times. Take for example Karla, a client from our partner agency Lumin. Karla’s family came to Lumin when Karla was 18 months old. In her initial developmental screenings, Karla showed delays in communication and social-personal development. She also had numerous challenges during home visits: She would throw things across the room, she struggled with concentration and she had difficulty with expressive language. During some visits, Karla would hit herself in frustration. This made her mother uncomfortable and, as a result, she cancelled visits, would not take her children out of the house and became isolated.

This situation was understandably frustrating for both Karla and her mother. However, the parent educator at Lumin kept working with Karla’s mother, speaking with her about strategies and establishing routines. They worked together to create a home learning environment, to offer freedom of choice and to establish limits and routines for Karla. Since then, Karla and her mom have taken a 180-degree turn. Karla is aware of the visit routine, she sits patiently and waits until the materials are set up, and she listens attentively when mom reads her a book. Karla now goes to childcare with other kids where she is social, shares and knows how to take turns. When completing a Family Centered Assessment, Karla’s mother showed significant gains in parenting skills and building capacity.

With a little guidance and support, Karla’s mother learned how to support her daughter and create a positive learning environment in which she can thrive. This is the type of intervention that has been shown to prevent child abuse and neglect by empowering parents when they need it most.

Together, We Can Prevent Child Abuse

Child abuse cases remain high in North Texas, and we believe every child deserves protection. Join us as we work to prevent child abuse across our region. Here are three ways to get involved right now:

  1. Advocate for strong families. Sign up here to receive our Advocacy Alerts and sign up for our new Policy in Brief newsletter. We’ll let you know how and when to contact your lawmakers to advocate for initiatives that prevent child abuse—for example, HOPES and Texas Home Visiting Program.
  2. Volunteer during National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Support local children and parents this month through two volunteer opportunities: by helping out at our Health & Prevention Expo on Saturday, April 27, or by donating time to support the First3Years’ Safe Babies program.
  3. Make a donation to support child abuse prevention. When you invest in United Way, you create lasting change right here at home. Your donation will help support programs like HOPES and Texas Home Visiting Program and ensure all North Texas children have the opportunity to thrive. Click here to donate.

Suspect Child Abuse?

If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services toll-free at 1-800-252-5400, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also file a report via their Abuse Hotline website.

Need Support?

If you are a parent who is struggling with keeping your children safe and healthy, please contact one of our partner agencies for resources and support:


Invest in North Texas Kids

Together, we can ensure local parents have the resources and support necessary to ensure children can thrive. Your donation funds programs like HOPES and Texas Home Visiting Program, which encourage healthy child development and strong families across North Texas.