For over 35 years, CASTLE's Mission and Focus is to prevent child abuse and neglect by providing positie parenting programs for children and families in distress. CASTLE's programs are serving 11,000 individuals in St. Lucie, Martin, Indian River and Okeechobee counties with outstanding results. In fact, 98% of the families who complete CASTLE stay together, become better parents and now have loving homes where their children can thrive.
Child Abuse is a community issue. It affects all of us. We know that 98% of abuse is committed by parents, relatives or someone known to the family. Crying, toilet training and feeding are the most common triggers of physical abuse.
The United States has more children dying from child abuse than any other industrialized nation (5 children each day). Florida has a disproportionate number of these deaths with 5% of the nation's children and 10% of the nation's deaths from child abuse. Florida's child abuse rate is 35% higher than the national average and has remained consistently above the national average for many years.
Locally, child abuse rates mirror the state rate and have also sonsistently done so. Another disturbing trend is that the number of children who receive services after an abuse investiagation continues to drop. Last year, only 21% of children who were abused in Florida received services, down from 58% just three years ago. This statistic underscores the need for local support of child abuse prevention efforts.
CASTLE offers parenting expertise through in-home visits, classes for first-time parents, parents who are divorcing and for children who are experiencing the emotional consequences of their parent's divorce or separation.
Always mindful of our mission, we have extended our reach and developed new programs as the community around us has grown with each program carefully assessed for its adherence to our core purpose of safe children and skilled parents. This focus has enabled CASTLE to play a leadership role in the prevention of child abuse.
From a national level, the program developed here on the Treasure Coast in 1981, Safe Families, has been replicated across the country in 75 Exchange Club Child Abuse Centers. Based in part on this widespread replication, the Safe Families Program has been the subject of vigorous research and is now considered to be an evidence based method of preventing abuse and building strong families.
Locally, CASTLE remains unique in its array of prevention services on the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County. Community wide efforts to raise awareness of child abuse prevention include our Annual Memory Field of Flags, which memorializes the children who have died due to neglect and abuse with a flag flying in their honor. CASTLE also takes a leading role in the statewide child abuse prevention plan for Circuit 19. Additionally, CASTLE hosts monthly "tours" in each of the counties we serve, where the public is invited for a presentation of CASTLE's prevention efforts.
For more information on all aspects of family life or to learn how you can get involved, please visit www.CastleTC.org.