Healthy Families works to eliminate potential risks of child abu - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Healthy Families works to eliminate potential risks of child abuse

WEST SALEM, Wis. (WXOW) – April is national Child Abuse Awareness Month.

In La Crosse County, more than 1,500 children are reported for abuse each year, according to the Family and Children's Center. Almost three times as many are maltreated but not reported.

The Center is a local non-profit that among its many missions, works to prevent potential child abuse and neglect through its Healthy Families program. It's a voluntary program that's free-of-charge for all families who use the service.

The Schroeder family is part of the program.

Laughter and love fills their home—especially during playtime.

That's all Tammy Schroeder wants for her toddlers Cooper and Bennie. She didn't have that growing up. And knowing that, she asks for help.

"We just moved around a lot. It was hard to get settled into school. There was some verbal abuse there,” Schroeder said of her childhood. “It wasn't kind of the warm, fuzzy childhood that you want. I just felt like if I couldn't get the mom I felt I deserved, I wanted to be that mom."

Which is why she's participating in Healthy Families. It's a program for new parents to help them learn about their role as parents, how to communicate with their baby, and how to cope with the stresses of parenthood.

Doctors recommended Schroeder for the program during her pregnancy.

"We were really young parents. We had (Cooper) when we were 20, so it was hard to get into all the resources... so (Lori Furlano) just helped us with that missing connection that we had,” Schroeder said.

Furlano is a family system specialist with Healthy Families.

"Parenting is a tough, tough job,” Furlano said. “And the more support you can get, and help—so one of the things we do is at least bring information on what is age appropriate development... If you haven't experienced certain things or, you know, even remembered those things in your childhood, you don't have a gauge to go, 'Is this what they do? Or, is that what they do?'"

Furlano has been working with the Schroeders almost every week for four years.

"This is just setting that warm foundation so that our kids can be our kids and can be the best kids, and our parents can be our best parents,” Furlano said.

Schroeder said she just wants her children to live well, love much and keep their faith.

"I just want to be that rock for them and show them how to be positive,” she said.

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