The Founding of the Organization

Prevent Child Abuse Vermont (PCAVT) began as Parents Anonymous of Vermont in 1976. Helen Parker, then a Head Start Home Visitor, in Central Vermont, contacted the Parents Anonymous National Office and requested chapter development materials. Helen and Laura Smith, then a Medical Social Worker at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital, met with a small group of parents who wanted to improve the way they interacted with their children. The first Chapter, which was based in Montpelier, expanded and professionals began calling from around the state to ask about starting Parents Anonymous Chapters in their communities.

The founders decided to get together with other interested people and share their experiences, successes and difficulties. They believed it was time to organize a resource office to assist communities in groups, sharing ideas, and creating a framework for parent leadership. They established a Board of Directors, incorporated and applied for and were granted 501(c)(3) status.

Developing Statewide Programs

Shortly after establishing itself as a non-profit, PCAVT began searching for a parent education program and found the Nurturing Program for Parents and Children (ages 4-12). Since then, PCAVT has carried out more than 650 Nurturing Programs.

In 1989, PCAVT began publishing the Vermont Parents’ Home Companion and Resource Directory and has distributed more than 300,000 copies to families across the State. The Home Companion contains information on parenting, child development and special issues of concern as well as a comprehensive statewide directory of child and family services.

Child sexual abuse is the most frequently reported and founded form of child abuse in Vermont. Consequently, PCAVT began establishing initiatives to actively engage children, adolescents, and adults in prevention efforts. Understanding and Responding to the Sexual Behavior in Children, and Nurturing Healthy Sexual Development offer training for teachers and all others working with children on the continuum of child sexual abuse development and behavior. The Sexual Abuse Free Environment for Teens™ Program (SAFE-T) and Care for Kids are school based programs involving students, parents, and teachers in a health based, community centered approach to prevention.

In 1997, the Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Program started. This program teaches parents, childcare providers, and medical professionals the facts and consequences of Shaken Baby Syndrome along with safe ways of comforting a crying infant and managing parents’ stress.

PCAVT began working with incarcerated parents from the corrections system in 1998. We carried out Circle of Parents groups, Nurturing Parenting Programs for Fathers’ and Nurturing Parenting Programs for Parents in Recovery from Substance Abuse in prisons. The goals of the program are threefold: to increase the likelihood of family reunification after release and whenever appropriate, reduce recidivism; support family nurturing skills; and create the framework for healthy parent, child and partner relationships.

PCAVT’s technology safety program, was established in 2008 in response to growing risks of technology-facilitated child exploitation and peer-to-peer aggressive behaviors among youth. With collaboration from generous partners, the program has established a positive approach emphasizing empathy among youth, adult involvement, and community engagement.

PCAVT continues to collaborate with United Ways, foundations, corporation, and State and Federal partners. The Executive Director and Program Staff participate in statewide, regional, and local coalitions and teams to improve access to resources and develop needed services that help to strengthen families.

Our Role Expands

PCAVT now offers Training of Trainers opportunities to Vermont social service organizations, and to entities outside of Vermont seeking exemplary research based and or evidence based programs to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation. Our Executive Director serves on the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. PCAVT Child and Youth Sexual Abuse Prevention Program Managers travel to other States to Train Trainers through The Healthy Relationships Project.