The Moline-based Child Abuse Council announced Tuesday it is changing its name to EveryChild to better reflect the agency’s longtime mission.
“Our goals haven’t changed — we’re here to help every child have the safe, healthy childhood they deserve,” Executive Director Mark Mathews said in a news release. “Our new name will take that mission further by putting a more welcoming and inclusive face out in the community and giving us more opportunities to do the things we’re already doing.”
The nonprofit, which served 7,100 children, parents, and community professionals in 2021, also hopes the new name will help it to connect more children and families with services that will help them thrive.
EveryChild was established in 1977 as the Council on Children at Risk by a group of community members to lead efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect in the Quad Cities. In 1992, it was renamed Child Abuse Prevention and Services Council and shortened three years later to Child Abuse Council. Today, it offers education, prevention, and treatment programs and services reaching a broad community base and the families and children most at risk.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a pivotal moment,” said Brooke Hendrickx, director of development and communications. While the organization’s rebranding conversations predate the pandemic, she added, the crisis shined fresh light on EveryChild’s work.
“Going through this pandemic, we’ve all been exposed to the same trauma, making EveryChild’s services more relevant than ever. With this new identity, we want everyone to understand that we’re here for all our community’s children and families, no matter what they’ve gone through,” Ms. Hendrickx said.
According to Mr. Mathews, the decision to adopt a new name is the result of both ongoing conversations and an intensive six-month research and strategy process.
“We’ve been fortunate to finally have the capacity and resources to rethink our name and brand in a deliberate, thoughtful way,” he said. “We also have a board that was motivated to see this idea through along with all the other things we’ve been working on.”
Linda Wastyn, board president, said, “For years, the board has wrestled with the name Child Abuse Council.”
“We came to feel it didn’t accurately describe the true breadth of what we do, and the negative connotations of the word ‘abuse’ even turned away people we could help,” she said. “There’s always something new to learn as you raise and care for children, and we offer so many fantastic educational resources, but our name kept people from seeing that.”
EveryChild’s programs and services aren’t limited to children and families who have experienced abuse, neglect or trauma, Mr. Mathews said. “We take a proactive, strength-based approach with a major focus on preventing problems before they ever happen. Our new name centers who we’re doing that work for, not what we’re working against.”
EveryChild’s prevention programs include: Second Step, which partners with schools and agencies to provide preschool children, teachers, and parents with information they need to stay safe and prevent child sex abuse; and Basic Training for New Dads, which equips new fathers to prepare for the birth of a child. Healthy Families home visiting and Community Doula services support parents before, during and after childbirth in ensuring their babies have the best possible start in life.
EveryChild also reaches thousands of professionals and parents each year through its community education classes, training and presentations.
“We like to say that when we know better, we do better,” said Mr. Mathews. “Parenting is a learned skill, and part of our work is providing the resources and community connections new parents need to feel confident every step of the way.”
EveryChild also will continue offering its treatment programs, which work to mitigate the immediate and long-term effects of childhood trauma.
“What we experience during childhood — and especially between birth and age five, when 90% of brain development happens — impacts us well into adulthood,” said Mr. Mathews. “Our specialized childhood trauma programs are a core part of how we support safe, healthy childhoods and make sure every single child in our community has opportunities for success.”
EveryChild’s treatment services include: Safe from the Start child therapy, holistic wraparound services through the Mississippi Valley Child Protection Center, and the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which empowers trained volunteers to advocate for children’s interests in courts.
“We feel that EveryChild does a great job of capturing our mission of strengthening children and families through prevention, education, and treatment,” said Ms. Wastyn. “Any child from any family can suffer abuse, neglect, or trauma — whether from the death of a loved one, living through a horrible storm, or just the stresses of the pandemic. We want every family to know that they can turn to us for help and to feel comfortable doing so. As such, the board unanimously feels that the name EveryChild communicates what we do and why we do it.”
Along with better reaching families that could benefit from EveryChild’s programs and services, Mr. Mathews hopes the new name will help the agency engage with a wider array of funders and provide a bigger platform for advocating for children and families.
“Our new name also recognizes that childhood well-being is an issue we all have a stake in,” he said. “Until we set every child up to thrive, we can’t reach our potential as a community.”