Human Services

Prevent Child Abuse America

Because childhood lasts a lifetime

Chicago, IL   |


To prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation's children.

Ruling year info


President & CEO

Dr. Melissa Merrick

Main address

228 South Wabash Avenue 10th Floor

Chicago, IL 60604 USA

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Formerly known as

National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse



Cause area (NTEE code) info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Children are the foundation for our society and our communities. Children raised in nurturing, safe and supportive environments are more likely to contribute to economic prosperity and create secure, healthy communities. Abused and neglected children are more likely to experience mental health problems, suffer from addiction, do poorly in school, become involved in crime or need more social services. Focusing on preventing child abuse and neglect results in better childhoods and lifelong health, productivity, and prosperity. Ultimately, supporting healthier childhoods saves millions of dollars in social services and produces safer, more economically successful communities. A study published in 2020, and led by researchers at Prevent Child Abuse America, documents the lifetime costs associated with the consequences of abuse or neglect for U.S. children with substantiated abuse or neglect FFY 2018 at $592B.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?


The communications department focuses on traditional public relations and media work; the utilization of social or new media; training and presenting on messaging and building social movements and leading research efforts to more effectively reframe the message and story of child abuse prevention.

Population(s) Served

Prevent Child Abuse America's core offering is Healthy Families America. By supporting parents in the home, Healthy Families America builds a strong foundation for safe, nurturing, and trusted relationships between caregiver and child that maximizes opportunities for children to reach their full potential and enjoy lifelong health and success. Families voluntarily enroll in HFA and work one-on-one with a family support specialist, receiving services tailored to their specific needs. HFA is one of the most widely implemented home visiting programs in the country, with 600 HFA affiliate sites, delivering approximately one million home visits every year, and directly impacting more than 70,000 families (93,000+ children). The HFA national team supports these sites with training, accreditation, technical assistance, and other critical supports. Several independent studies have shown the positive impacts of Healthy Families America. The program has been found to reduce family violence & crime, increase positive parenting practices, reduce child maltreatment, improve child health, development & school readiness, strengthen family economic self-sufficiency, and to reduce juvenile delinquency.

Population(s) Served
Infants to preschool (under age 5)

Research informs all of our work. Research staff collaborate with practice leaders, academic researchers, and others to help fill critical gaps in knowledge, and monitor and evaluate national programs. Current projects include an online survey on victimization of American Indian/Alaska Native youth, evaluation of father involvement programs, and monitoring Healthy Families America site characteristics. Research-practice dialogue is at the core of all projects, to ensure the relevance and application of research results.

Population(s) Served

Prevent Child Abuse America advocates for policies and services that ensure children grow up in nurturing and stable environments free from abuse and neglect, thereby enabling children to reach their full potential.

Population(s) Served

We have a national state chapter network that work to ensure that prevention, before abuse and neglect ever happens, is occurring nationwide. At the national office, we work with the state chapter to ensure best practices in programming and non-profit management, provide technical and fundraising support, partnership in advocacy efforts, and other initiatives.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of unique website visitors

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

The mission of Prevent Child Abuse America is to prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation's children. We believe every state must develop and implement a 'plan for children.' We also provide leadership on prevention strategies of all types of abuse and neglect as well as messaging on the issue. We keep our administrative costs low, so that the majority of every dollar will be distributed to programs and research that benefit children and families. Further, we aim to raise public awareness around the role all members of the community play in the healthy development of children and activate them to play these roles. Additionally, we support the development and expansion of innovative prevention programming and seek to influence legislation that impacts the lives of children and families, including funding for home visiting programs in order to ensure these programs are able to reach all families in need.

In order to prevent the abuse and neglect of children throughout the United States, Prevent Child Abuse America has transitioned from a focus on raising awareness of child abuse and neglect prevention strategies to a leading role in encouraging the public to act on these strategies. We are one of twelve members of Connect the Dots, a movement to promote healthy child development and reduce child abuse and neglect by encouraging the public to take an active role in their community. As a result of this effort, we have been able to reach and maintain the attention of the public. We also participate in numerous coalitions across the country to provide education and advocacy as well as programmatic support for the needs of families in the United States and territories. In further response to our involvement, we are currently working to provide others with the necessary tools to take action to ensure all children have the great childhood they deserve because our children are our future.<br/> <br/>We also look to craft, support and expand legislation at the State and Federal levels that focus on innovative prevention strategies that impact the lives of children and their families before abuse ever occurs. These strategies include families and children of all shapes and sizes - not only those in impoverished communities. In addition, our presence in all 50 states allows us to address issues as varied as required training for mandated reporters, advocating for dollars in the state budget for programs that benefit children and families, and assisting in developing age appropriate curricula for child sexual abuse prevention.

Founded in 1972 and based in Chicago, Prevent Child Abuse America has worked for over four decades to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide. Prevent Child Abuse America is made up of a National Office, 50 State Chapter Network and over 630 sites providing home visitation services through Healthy Families America. Prevent Child Abuse America is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors (currently 25 members) and managed by President & CEO Dan Duffy, who oversees 28 core national staff, bolstered by substantial efforts of pro bono and paid consultants, contractors and skilled volunteers.<br/> <br/>The national office staff consists of eight directors who report to the President & CEO:<br/><br/>1. Administration<br/>2. Chapter Services<br/>3. Communications<br/>4. Development<br/>5. Marketing<br/>6. Programs<br/>7. Public Policy<br/>8. Research<br/><br/>In addition to our national office staff, we work closely with our 50 state chapter network. Our chapters employ approximately 500 staff. Together, we are able to provide support and education to people where they live. Within the chapter network, there are over 350 prevention strategies that help to provide local support for children and families. Those strategies include home visitation, parent education, Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention and programs to prevent child sexual abuse such as the Enough Abuse Campaign and Darkness to Light.<br/> <br/>Prevent Child Abuse America also provides policy, information management and training for Healthy Families America (HFA). HFA is an evidence-based, voluntary home visitation program for new or expectant parents at risk for child maltreatment to assist in the creation of life-long relationships between parents and children because great childhoods begin at home. HFA helps parents understand the impact that stress in their lives can have on their children, and increase parents' skills to help them become the best parents they can be.

In order to ensure our chapter network and prevention programs are supported and consistent, Prevent Child Abuse America conducts periodic surveys of both national networks (Chapters and Healthy Families America) to measure quality and capacity.<br/> <br/>To promote a strong chapter network, we conduct a bi-annual state chapter snapshot survey, quarterly review of financial stability and on-site chapter visits every three years. Chartering requirements for state chapters include:<br/><br/>- Adherence to national board of directors' policy positions<br/>- Board governance<br/>- Effectiveness<br/>- Financial stability<br/>- Service to the community<br/>- State reach<br/>- Statewide leadership capacity and collaboration<br/><br/>The national office also monitors Healthy Families America sites quality and performance. Site visits are examined by the components indicated above, in addition to a wide array of issues that focus on fidelity to the Healthy Families America home visitation model, such as staff training, on-site policy and practices and child well-being outcomes.<br/> <br/>We monitor the impact of social efforts as well. For example, national attention garnered via our efforts to raise awareness and understanding of child abuse and neglect is measured through a variety of indicators such as:<br/><br/>- 126,799 Facebook Fan members;<br/>- 20,100 Twitter followers;<br/>- 10,000 Blog page views per month;<br/>- 17,000 unique visitors to the website per month;<br/>- nearly 100,000 families served by the Healthy Families America program each year.<br/><br/>Such indicators allow us to infer a move from awareness to action and community engagement leading to the development of effective strategies which ensure all children have the great childhood they deserve because our children are our future.

Since our founding in 1972, Prevent Child Abuse America has raised public awareness of child abuse and neglect as a significant issues from 10% to 90% of the public believing child abuse and neglect is a serious issue.<br/> <br/>The chapter network was developed shortly after our founding - the first chapter was founded in Kansas in 1976 and from there we have achieved the goal of developing a 50 state chapter network. Likewise, the Healthy Families America program was launched in 1992 with a Healthy Families America Conference held in 1994.<br/> <br/>Multiple studies of Healthy Families America (HFA) indicate the prevention of child abuse and neglect, promotion of healthy child development and helping parents achieve their goals for more effective parenting and personal growth reduces several other risk factors for adverse childhood experiences. HFA is the only model that currently has studies illustrating its effectiveness in all 8 outcomes areas: child health, child development and school readiness, family self-sufficiency, linkages and referrals to community resources, maternal health, positive parenting practices, reductions in child maltreatment and reductions in juvenile delinquency, family violence and crime. Each year, HFA serves nearly 100,000 families!<br/> <br/>In 2008, we launched the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign and more recently, now serve as one of the co-founders of the National Movement for America's Children. These efforts redefine the national conversation about what prevention is and activate the public to recognize the roles they play, and might play, in preventing child abuse and neglect before it ever occurs.<br/> <br/>To increase public understanding of the importance of prevention, we have published a series of reports on the annual cost of child maltreatment, with funding from Macy's Inc., the Pew Charitable Trust and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. The most recent report (2012) was authored by internationally-known Dr. Richard Gelles of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Staci Perlman of Kutztown University. This report estimated the United States spent approximately $80 billion in 2012 as a direct or indirect result of child abuse and neglect. This report on the economic costs of child abuse and neglect illustrates that child abuse and neglect exact a substantial monetary toll on society, in addition to human suffering.


Prevent Child Abuse America

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Prevent Child Abuse America

Board of directors
as of 6/1/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Andrea Roberston

Michael Axelrod

Linda Bonelli

Angelo Giardino

Matthew Walch

Debbie Snyder

Bob Mayo

Bruce Perry

Mariano Sori

Thomas (TJ) Fox

Alison Jakes Argersinger

Michael Axelrod

Sanford Bohrer

William Boltz

Molly Campbell

Thomas Carhart

Dwayne Crawford

Victoria Dudley

Maura Somers Dughi

SuEllen Fried

Harold Hong

Susan Kelley

Danielle Laraque-Arena

Jodi Scheurenbrand

Philip Scribano

Robert Sege

Bernardo Wolfson

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes


Prevention of child physical, sexual, emotional abuse, neglect and exploitation