FARMINGTON — New programming for families is available to address Franklin County’s high rate of child abuse.

Members of the advisory panel, Friends Reducing Abuse & Neglect of Kids Living in our Neighborhoods, gathered Monday morning to hear updates on ways the Franklin County Children’s Task Force and partners are providing families with support and resources to strengthen relationships.

About 600 students from across Franklin County are involved in a school-based program that teaches healthy relationships, said Stacie Bourassa, community coordinator for the Task Force. Sexual Assault Prevention and Rape Services and Safe Voices work with the Task Force to offer instruction.

About 100 educators and staff in schools, including those in Eustis, Jay, Rangeley and Phillips, are also being trained on how to report and respond to child abuse, she said. Regional School Unit 9 is not yet involved, she said.

Based on responses from a local fifth grade, the Healthy Relationship program has brought change, she said. Students have learned about body language and setting boundaries.

Other highlights discussed Monday were:


* The Kids of FRANKLIN after-school and summer program is serving 169 students at Mallett School in Farmington and Academy Hill School in Wilton, said Renee Whitley, executive director of the Task Force. The program provides help with schoolwork, exercise and enrichment opportunities and is funded by a 21st Century grant received last May. The program is held in partnership with RSU 9.

* Parents Cafe is being formed to provide social connections and support for local parents, said Doug Saunders, education coordinator at the Task Force. Topics that matter to parents will be discussed over dinner with on-site child care provided, he said. The first cafe is planned for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 15, at Academy Hill School and another at 5:30 p.m. March 22 at W.G. Mallett School.

* A three-day program on resilience, designed for professionals who work with children or caregivers, is planned for June 26-28 at the University of Maine at Farmington. Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do,” will be the guest speaker. People can call 778-6960 or email [email protected] for more information or to register.

The Franklin County Children’s Task Force, Advocates for Children in Lewiston and the Children’s Center in Somerset County were tasked in 2015 with formulating a plan to establish and coordinate services to reduce child abuse.

The three counties, Franklin, Androscoggin and Somerset, were selected as demonstration sites for the three-year project by a partnership between the Maine Department of Human Services and the Maine Children’s Trust.

Each county selected an advisory panel composed of a group of community partners who meet periodically to discuss the issue.

[email protected]

F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N. Advisory Panel

F.R.A.N.K.L.I.N. Advisory Panel

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