LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – April is designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month in the United States, and a number of organizations in the Coulee Region are making efforts to create safe environments for children.

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the Coulee Region Child Abuse Prevention Task Force, a collaborative of 24 different entities which work to limit local instances of abuse.

“La Crosse County Human Services gets anywhere between 15-1,700 referrals per year regarding child abuse or neglect,” Task Force Chair Nicole Milliren said. “That’s a lot of children in our community that have faced something in their life that we wished that they didn’t.”

Milliren believes finding the root cause of abuse is the best way to prevent future harm from happening to a child.

“No parent intends to hurt their child, it’s stress, it’s mental health, it’s lots of things,” Milliren explained. “We need to move beyond what’s wrong with people, it’s more about what’s happened to that adult and can we get underneath that.”

New Horizons, the YWCA, and the La Crosse Family and Children’s Center are among the groups that make up the task force.

Each of those organizations provides resources for abuse victims, and in turn, Great Rivers United Way ensures those resources stay readily available.

“Last year in 2021, Great Rivers United Way invested over $337,000 in domestic violence and child abuse programming,” Development Director Katie Sparks said.

Sparks hopes the United Way can provide similar support this year, and is hosting a fundraiser next week to directly benefit child abuse and domestic violence prevention.

“We’re asking the community to join us and raise funds specifically for the nine programs that United Way funds in those categories,” Sparks added.

The United Way’s fundraiser will be held through its Facebook page beginning April 4, and will last until April 8.

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