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Message from Kristin Leest, Founder and CEO

April 7, 2024

Dear Friends, supporters, and advocates for children's well-being,

Every day, caregivers experience a wide range of emotions as they navigate the profound journey of parenting. While the joys are abundant and the challenges are inevitable, our societal focus often gravitates towards the brighter aspects of parenthood. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that all families struggles. Not speaking about these challenges can create a sense of isolation for those who are facing difficulties.

As we honor National Child Abuse Prevention Month under this year’s campaign theme "Kids can heal," I, as the CEO of Big Hugs for Little Hearts, urge us all to recognize the importance of normalizing the trials that come with parenting. Let's ensure that every family has access to the necessary support to manage these tough times. We must build communities where families are not only celebrated but encouraged to connect with one another.

At the heart of prevention lies the provision of fundamental supports: housing, food, transportation, and childcare. These essentials form the bedrock of healthy family environments. Our program, Kids Closet, stands as a testament to this principle. By providing crucial supplies like diapers, clothing, toys, school supplies, and more, we alleviate the economic burdens on families, reduce stress, and lower the risk of maltreatment.

Supporting families isn't just about reacting to crises; it's about proactively creating safe and nurturing environments for them. We must be mindful of the various stressor’s families face, many of which are beyond their direct control. By focusing on programs and policies that address structural barriers, we can create more equitable opportunities for families' health and well-being.

We need to apply an equity lens to our efforts. This means improving access to programs and services like Big Hugs for Little Hearts through tailored guidance for hard-to-reach populations. It means recognizing the interdependence between parents and children—a holistic perspective that weaves the two generations together. This two-generation approach, also known as the "whole family" promotes parental stability, education, and job training alongside early childhood development and education.

During National Child Abuse Prevention Month and beyond, I call on each of you to join us in doing something truly different. Let's unite and strive for a future where families are supported, and every child grows up safe, nurtured, and loved. I encourage you to visit the 2024 National Child Abuse Prevention Month campaign page to delve deeper into this year's theme and access our outreach materials.

Thank you, as always, for your unwavering commitment to improving outcomes for all children, youth, and families. With your support, we can implement effective prevention and early intervention strategies, revolutionizing the ways systems respond to families in poverty. These actions are not just necessary; they are vital to ensuring equity and granting every family the opportunity to thrive.

Together, we can make a difference.


Thank you.

Kristin Leest

Kristin Leest 

Founder and CEO of Big Hugs for Little Hearts

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