Child Abuse Awareness Month


Lisa Butt, CEO

The Society for the Protection and Care of Children (SPCC) has been working to protect children from abuse and neglect for 140 years. During that time we have seen many changes. As April has been designated Child Abuse Awareness month I began reflecting on SPCC’s history and how much our community has grown since the issue of child abuse was first recognized.

The first documented case of child abuse occurred in 1874, at a time when children were solely considered possessions of their parents or guardians and what happened in someone’s home was a private matter. However this changed in 1874 with the plight of a little girl named Mary Ellen who was being horribly abused by her caretakers in New York City. Thankfully Mary Ellen’s neighbors chose not to ignore her cries for help. However, when they reached out to authorities for help, they discovered that there were laws to protect animals but not children. Through the courage and passion of a few committed individuals, all this changed and the first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (SPCC) was created in New York City with the charge to protect children, specifically Mary Ellen. In their efforts to protect Mary Ellen, the authorities and those involved found a loving home for her in Rochester, NY and worked to establish the second chapter of SPCC in Rochester to ensure her continued safety.

Since that time, SPCC has continued to be a champion of children’s rights in various capacities. It was volunteers of our organization that advocated for the creation of the first Children’s Court – now known as Family Court here in Monroe County. SPCC was the first to provide child protective services and to organize foster care for abused children. Today we continue to offer best practice and evidence-based services balanced with deep respect, passion and creativity to children and families.

As a community we have learned a lot about child maltreatment and the impact of trauma. The entire child welfare system has evolved greatly in our efforts to protect children and effectively support families. Unfortunately, the work is not done. In 2012, an estimated 1,640 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States. Clearly, we still need to work together to help bring increased awareness of the prevalence of child maltreatment just as our colleagues at the SPCA have effectively raised the awareness of animal maltreatment. Cruelty in any form cannot be ignored or tolerated, and we especially owe it to our children to provide a safe world in which to grow.

Agencies such as SPCC work tirelessly to provide the most effective therapeutic services for children and families so they can heal and develop supportive healthy relationships. The staff’s care and commitment provides much needed safety to countless children and families. Child Abuse Awareness month seems like an appropriate time to pay tribute to all of those who work to help children and families.

I’d also like to specifically thank our funders, partners, and supporters. Without each and every one of you SPCC would be unable to continue this essential work. As a community, we should be proud of our increased awareness, effective prevention efforts, high-quality interventions and most of all our collective passion and commitment to children and their families.

To learn more about Child Abuse Awareness Month, please visit this new Prevention Month website that highlights resources for protecting children and strengthening families.




Saying Goodbye


Saying Goodbye

Michelle Butler, SVP Intern

I am currently an intern in SPCC’s Supervised Visitation Program. During the past seven months, I have had the opportunity to work with many families and be witness to the numerous benefits of supervised visitation for both the children and parents. It has been an inspiration to watch these families deepen their relationships through meaningful forms of attachment and bonding. To be able to be a part of this program has even further fueled my passion to become a social worker. As part of my academic social work program, I am responsible for creating a macro project that would create sustainable change with the program or agency.  I spoke with my supervisor, Lisa D’Orsi, and she mentioned the possibility ofcreating care packages for cases in which parental rights have been terminated. I was immediately drawn to this idea and I felt that it would be a helpful and meaningful service for clients. In situations where it has been determined to terminate parental rights (TPR), both the parents and children may have an understandably difficult time with the transition of saying goodbye. We are aware that no matter how much love and desire a parent has to be a safe and nurturing caregiver, unfortunately sometimes it’s not enough. And in these instances, the courts decide that a parent’s rights need to be terminated to allow a child to move on to find a permanent home.

Our intention in creating these care packages is to assist families during this difficult time of saying goodbye. We know that this ending may be the safest option for the children involved, but we also want to honor the emotional challenge for both parents and children. Feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, fear and hope are understandable and expected. Our hope is that the items in these care packages will provide positive memories and keepsakes from the last visits held at the Visitation Center between the parent and child. We also hope that these items will provide an opportunity to say “goodbye” through writing, stories and art.  After careful thought and research, the team at Supervised Visitation has created the following list of items for our care packages:

  1. A teddy bear for the child to hold when they miss mom or dad (or guardian).

  2. A small photo album for the parent and one for the child, to hold pictures of each other in. We will take photos at the visitation center and print them for each family member.

  3. A list of different “handprint” activities for both to do together and take home after the visit.

  4. The “My Book about Me” book by Dr Seuss, for the child and parent to complete together. This can be a bonding activity that also allows the child to express themselves and tell their parent about their likes.

  5. Crayons and/or markers for the “My Book About Me” book.

  6. The book “Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights” by Julie Nelson. This book helps to explain the transition of saying goodbye to parents to the children in this way.

  7. A letter for a future birthday/special event that the parent could be encouraged to write before the visit. This gives the parent an opportunity to express their feelings and hopes for the future to their child.

  8. A list of resources for the parent to assist them with the transition. The list will include various community resources that the parent may find helpful, such as counseling/support groups, health resources, and employment/education resources.

My goal is to make 10-15 care packages before I end my internship this year to allow for sustainable change. If anyone reading this feels inspired or moved and would like to donate some of the items above, our families would cherish them.  Your donation would provide us the opportunity to give these families special gifts as they are going through this difficult transition of saying goodbye.

You can feel free to contact my supervisor, Lisa D’Orsi at 753-2710, or mail items directly to her at:

Lisa D’Orsi, Program Coordinator

SPCC, Supervised Visitation Program

451 E. Henrietta Road

Rochester, NY 14620