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CAPP Task Force and Safe Sleep

It was a pleasure to interview Anna Richard, Director of Children’s Services with Champion for Children Foundation, in regards to the Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Task Force of Highlands County (CAPP). CAPP involves representatives from various Highlands county organizations, the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and Heartland for Children (HFC). These representatives have volunteered their time to coordinate their efforts to solve some of the difficult issues surrounding child abuse and neglect and the need for permanency in our county. CAPP currently meets once a month to continuously work on their new 5-year plan addressing actionable items to make positive social changes in our community. By analyzing data that shows the past and current child abuse and neglect rates and trends in Highlands County, which is collected from DCF, HFC, and other local organizations, they extrapolate what areas of need they need to focus their efforts on to minimize child abuse and neglect and effect the data in positive ways.


One of the many actionable items that the CAPP Task Force has identified to support in their 5-year plan is the need to “Increase Positive Community Norms.” Data collected, by the Department of Children and Families, as well as, Heartland for Children, has found that there is a degree of a somewhat skewed view amongst some of our community members, that parents do not have their children’s best interests in mind, but this is not true. In fact, the opposite is true; most parents want to do what’s best for their children. So, how does CAPP plan to help change this misconception? Some of the things CAPP is currently doing include HFC supplying CAPP members with posters with positive community norms messages proving accurate information that is put up in various locations. Champion for Children Foundation (CCF), that is part of the CAPP group, also offers parental support, parental guidance, and resources that parents can access when in need.


CAPP is also taking action on their permanency commitment where they create awareness in the community for children that are seeking adoption. There is a great need to find children permanent adoptive homes and HFC has a goal to find 179 children homes in the year 2020/2021. Simply put there are not enough families adopting children. Our community needs to encourage families interested in adopting a child, a teen, or a sibling group, to take the next step and get involved. CAPP is involved in an initiative called “Pray for Me Signs.” Churches are displaying these signs, supplied by HFC, that have information about a child in need of a forever family. These posters promote the adoption of a child within that congregation’s community and urge the church to share the information with anyone willing to adopt. HFC can also send representatives to these churches to provide presentations on adoption and foster care. HFC also offers support groups and online classes for families wanting to adopt a child. CCF and other partners with CAPP also promotes a child per month, and help the task force reach out into the community to find locations that will promote these children. Currently, the task force is seeking four more cites that will promote these children and help spread the word about finding them forever families.


Each month CAPP is focusing on different campaigns. One of the campaigns for October is Safe Sleep for Infants. This is a campaign to raise awareness in the community about the importance of putting babies to sleep in a safe way. Over 800 preventable sleep-related deaths occur in the US each year. Safe Sleep includes putting a baby to sleep on their back at all times, using a safety-approved mattress and crib, and keeping all objects and loose bedding away from the crib, including toys, bottles, even crib bumpers. It is okay to share a room with a baby, but never the same bed. These Safe Sleep criteria may not be known to everyone, including the parents, the infant’s grandparents, friends of the parents, misinformed nurses, and other influential people in the parents’ lives. It’s extremely important that we come together as a community to spread the word about Safe Sleep, and ways to stop these preventable accidental sleep-related deaths. The task force has determined that more awareness, increased community education, and improved training concerning Safe Sleep will help address this concern. Some of the actions CAPP members are taking, to spread the word about Safe Sleep, includes campaigning on social media, sending email shout-outs, and handing Safe Sleep brochures to families with infants and soon-to-be parents. The Healthy Start Coalitions of Florida offers training for Safe Sleep, as well as, safe portable cribs for parents in need. To find more information about Safe Sleep and different programs in our community that supports this cause, visit the Champion for Children Family Resource Center, located at 202 Circle Park Drive, Sebring, open Wednesday and Friday 9-12.


If you are interested in attending Highlands CAPP Task Force or get involved in one of their campaigns, please contact Anna Richard at the Champion for Children Foundation for more information, via email,


If you would like to become more active in Safe Sleep the website, is the official US campaign they have a social media promotion you can take part in, information added below.

Join us for a Safe Infant Sleep Social Media Block Party, October 26 to 29, 2020, for a series of four 8- to 15-minute Facebook Live events on safe infant sleep topics.

To mark Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness Month in October, we’re celebrating parents, caregivers, service and healthcare providers, advocates, babies, and everyone who helps babies sleep safely every day.

Each day features a live event co-hosted by a different organization, including NICHD/Safe to Sleep®, Charlie’s Kids Foundation, Cribs for Kids®, and First Candle.

The Safe to Sleep® campaign offers a variety of materials to help share safe infant sleep messages with different audiences. Many of these items are available for download and order on the website listed above.



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