FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington will be honored by the Maine Children’s Trust on Thursday, Oct. 19, for efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect throughout Maine.

Nominated by the Franklin County Children’s Task Force, UMF is receiving the award in recognition of its long history of partnering with agencies and programs that support children and families throughout Franklin County and the state.

Students majoring in UMF’s education programs engage with children and families through their course assignments, practicum experiences, internships and student teaching. Students often are trained as mandated reporters to be aware of the signs of child abuse and neglect. They learn about the importance of protective factors in children and family well being.

Advanced practicum students provide staffing for the 21st Century Kids of FRANKLIN Program. Contributing over 1,000 hours a year of lessons related to prevention and educational enrichment, these UMF students help children develop in ways that improve their school performance, friendships and family relationships.

Faculty in Community Health, Rehabilitation Services, Education and other majors collaborate with the Franklin County Children’s Task Force to provide students with professional experience with social service agencies. Students gain in-depth knowledge and experience about adverse childhood experiences, protective factors and different facets of agency work, ranging from home visits to data analysis.

UMF’s dedication to children and families is not limited to classes. For example, every winter, the university opens its doors for the Children’s Festival, offered by the Children’s Task Force. UMF students often volunteer for this event.

Each holiday season, the university bookstore puts up a tree with paper ornaments that are wish lists from families experiencing economic challenges. UMF students, staff and faculty provide funds or purchase the gifts listed on those ornaments, and the Children’s Task Force wraps and delivers the packages.

Student clubs at UMF have completed service projects helping children and families. Last winter the Student Education Association of Maine conducted a coat drive to assist grades P-12 students and their families. The Association for the Education of Young Children hosted a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the local elementary school to help offset medical expenses and show support for a family. Sodexo, UMF’s dining services, donated the food.

UMF is involved in the three-year Child Abuse Prevention Plan developed in Franklin County. Under the leadership of President Kate Foster, UMF will continue to contribute to initiatives to strengthen families and prevent child maltreatment.

The 14th annual recognition event will be held at the Double Tree Hotel in South Portland starting at 5:30 p.m. and is open to the public. The 2017 award recipients are:

Education Partner: University of Maine at Farmington.

State Partner: OCFS Information Services, Augusta.

Community Partner: Police Chief Michael Gahagan, Caribou.

Professional Advocate: Stephen Jacobs, MD, Lewiston.

Featured guest speaker and TED Talks speaker, Portland Police Chief Mike Sauschuck, is noted for his discovery of changing his perception of enforcing laws from a round them up and lock them up belief to viewing those charged with crimes as individuals with families, futures and potential.

Tickets can be purchased online at on the events page.

The Maine Children’s Trust is the statewide organization created by Maine statute to prevent child abuse and neglect of Maine’s children.

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