NHLN Opinion+: Joelyn Drennan


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This week we spoke with Joelyn Drennan, Senior Program Director of New Hampshire Children’s Trust.

The issues of child neglect and abuse awareness have been brought into the light due to the pandemic. There are negative stigmas that exist around child neglect and abuse which creates barriers to success for those that experience those issues. ”The pandemic has actually shined a light on the work that we do in the prevention space and broadly demonstrates the value and the impact of investing in systems and building systems in cultures,” said Drennan.

The pandemic has allowed others to see that child neglect and abuse should not be issues that are only brought up temporarily, but should be issues that should have continuous work. The work that Drennan does is build systems that tackle stereotypes and assist all families. “Child abuse and neglect prevention is the result of the work that we do.” This is done through educational programs that empower community leaders to advocate for all children. 

As a result of the pandemic, the organization has been able to build up support for community services and resource centers. Assisting in administrative services has helped put more of an emphasis on impacted families. “The pandemic empowered us to do our jobs and do it better,” explained Drennan in the fight to provide more resources and support for all families. Virtual programs allowed people to expand the reach of families that could not attend in-person events. Parenting a Second Time Around is a program that educates families across the state on child neglect and abuse and how to use the resources that are available. 

The work on diversity and serving communities of color is making continual progress because of current stereotypes of New Hampshire. “People have outdated beliefs about diversity in New Hampshire and kind of fall back on the thought that we are a predominantly white state so we don’t have to address issues of diversity when our population is becoming more diverse every day,” explained Drennan. “Do it in a way that is inclusive for everyone at the table.” 

The impact of poverty is a common influencer in the families seeking services. “There’s the movement of what is neglect because of intent and what is neglect as a result of poverty,” explained Joelyn on the importance of distinguishing the cause of their client’s issues. Once that distinction has been made then the right resources and programs can be used to reduce the impact of poverty. 

“Every family needs support,” stated Drennan regardless of what their background is, and supporting families is what the New Hampshire Children’s Trust does and is not the result of the pandemic. These issues should be issues that continue to be addressed and worked on as they are the stimulus for mental health issues which is another topic that has been brought to light by the pandemic. 

Resources mentioned in the video: 

New Hampshire Children’s Trust website: https://www.nhchildrenstrust.org/