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Presbyterian Child Advocacy NetworkThe Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network welcomes those involved in ministries of education, direct service and advocacy for children. The network strives to extend the Baptismal embrace by lifting up the needs of children in the church, the community, nation and world.

Join PHEWA and take part in this ministry.

2014 Children's Sabbath Weekend: "Precious in God’s Sight; Answering the Call to Cherish and Protect Every Child”  OCTOBER 17-19, 2014 (With follow-up throughout the year) 

PHEWA’s Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN) encourages you to join ecumenical and interfaith partners in celebrating the Children’s Defense Fund’s (CDF) 23rd annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths, October 17-19, 2014. Download the free Children’s Sabbath resources developed by the Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, CDF Religious Affairs Advisor and member of our PCAN Leadership Team.

Marian Wright Edelman, CDF President, writes, “This year the Children’s Sabbath is focusing on assuring every child a Strong Start in life through quality nurturing early childhood development 0-8… ” “In this Children’s Sabbath resource manual, you will find all that you and your place of worship need to plan for the Children’s Sabbath weekend and ways to build for continuing involvement in the year that follows.”

“We can begin to fulfill the dream by ensuring that all children have what they need to develop to their God-given potential through nurturing early childhood development at home through home visiting, quality child care and Head Start, and in universal pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. High quality early childhood development and learning opportunities effectively help get children ready for and to succeed in school and in life, and provide a substantial economic return to society… “ “Most importantly, investing in children is planting for the future. Fulfilling our moral responsibilities to the next generation is priceless.”


We Won't Let It Happen Here: Creating a Child Safe Church 

A project of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN), a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA)

Background: The 220th General Assembly (2012) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania passed Overture 11-16, directing the Presbyterian Mission Agency “to create a new resource concerning safe child measures in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that can be available for presbyteries and individual churches;” and to “create sample safe child policies that would be available online for use in presbyteries and individual churches as a resource for developing their own safe child policies.”

With profound appreciation for the work of Lois Rifner, Ph.D and Susan Keil Smith, MA, in the creation of the original “We Won’t Let it Happen Here,” the writing team assembled by the Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network, under the direction of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, has updated and revised its information. 

See more. 

Samual Dewitt Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry

The Children's Defense fund (cdf)


Standing Our Ground: Justice and Equity for All God's Children

July 14-18, 2014

CDF Haley Farm

Clinton, Tennessee

Join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 20th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.

“What better place to renew our spirits, refocus our vision, and strengthen the movement for children than CDF’s Haley Farm? Once home to the late Roots author Alex Haley, CDF Haley Farm is the spiritual home of the children’s movement. You will feel the spirit of this special place as soon as you enter the gates and take in the gentle green fields dotted with rustic buildings and graced by the Langston Hughes Library and the Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel designed by Maya Lin. On the porch of the Lodge, pull up a rocking chair bearing the name of one of the many heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, and get to know other participants who share your passion for justice.

Whether it is your first visit or one of many, you will be greeted with the words, ‘Welcome Home,’ and we trust that you will find in this place a sense of home and family among kindred spirits who, like you, won’t quit until we end the violence of guns and child poverty and realize God’s vision of bringing joy and justice to the lives of all of our children.” See more

PCAN leader, the Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, serves as Proctor Institute Director and Senior Religious Affairs Advisor for the Children’s Defense Fund.

2013 Children's Sabbath Weekend: "Beating Swords Into Plowshares: Ending the Violence of Guns and Child Poverty"


Dear Lord Be Good to Me The Sea is so Wide and My Boat is so small

The shocking shooting of more than a dozen people in Washington, D.C.’s Navy Yard has again transfixed our nation in horror, shining a spotlight on gun violence.  Still in the shadows outside that spotlight, are the dozen children and teens who were killed by guns over the preceding two days…and the dozen children and teens who will lose their lives to guns in the two days that follow the shooting. And it goes on and on.

We can do better to protect children, not guns. On the weekend of October 18-20, hundreds of places of worship spanning the religious spectrum all across the country will be participating in the 22nd annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths celebration.  Download the free Children’s Sabbath resources provided by The Children’s Defense Fund for help in observing The Children’s Sabbath. Together, we can focus attention on the violence of guns and poverty that are harming the children God has entrusted to our care and galvanize faithful, sustained action to end it so that finally, in the words of Micah, “no one shall make them afraid.”


Read Marian Wright Edelman’s Child Watch® Column, Children’s Defense Fund

The heartrending massacre of 20 six and seven year old children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut has galvanized public attention once again after a mass shooting. But the killing of children by gun violence is not new. It has been a relentlessly unreported and under-reported plague that has snuffed out the lives of 119,079 children and teenagers since 1979. That’s an average of 3,721 child and teen deaths every year for 32 years. That’s 4,763 classrooms of 25 children each. The number of children and teens killed by guns since 1979 is two and a half times greater than the number of U.S. military personnel killed in action in the Vietnam (47,434) or Korean (33,739) Wars, and over 22 times greater than American military personnel killed in the wars in Afghanistan (1,712) and in Iraq (3,518).

The United States of America has spent a trillion and a half dollars on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars so far, purportedly to protect our children and citizens from enemies without, while ignoring the reality that the greatest threats to child safety and wellbeing come from enemies within.

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PCAN’s Shannon Daley-Harris, writing in the Huffington Post on Children and gun violence

Shannon Daley-HarrisThe Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, Religious Affairs Director of The Children’s Defense Fund & member of PHEWA’s Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN) Leadership Team, challenges us with a prophetic call to action in “The Right to Bear Dreams: It's Time to End the Nightmare of Child Gun Deaths” and theological reflection in “God’s Call Is to Seek Change, Not Comfort, to Keep Our Children Safe.” 

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National Adoption Month 2012, and beyond

National Adoption Month All YearThe month of November has been observed as National Adoption Month for the past seventeen years, by proclamation of the President of the United States.  It is an initiative of the Children's Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supported through AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway, members of the Children's Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network.  This partnership provides valuable resources and technical assistance to raise public awareness about the need for foster and adoptive families for children in the public child welfare system; and to assist U.S. States, Territories, and Tribes to recruit and retain foster and adoptive families and connect them with children.

You may be interested in The Spirit of Adoption; At Home in God's Family, by Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner, published in 2003 by Westminster John Knox Press.

“In this heart-felt theology of adoption, Jeanne Stevenson-Moessner argues that while the church has long understood the grounding self-concept of a Christian as a "child of God," it has failed to underscore that we all come into the family of faith by adoption. She explores adoption as a central theme in Scripture, as a doctrine of faith, and as a theological metaphor. Further, in using her own experience of adoption to inform her scholarship, Stevenson-Moessner offers help to all those touched by adoption, including adoptive parents…”

“And How Are The Children?” Election Year Congregational Resources Fall 2012

Two days before the opening gavel signaled the start of General Assembly 220, representatives from PHEWA and the PC(USA) Child Advocacy Office, and individuals with a track record of commitment to children gathered in Pittsburgh to "re-stage" PHEWA's Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network (PCAN). After much prayer, reflection, goal-setting and strategic planning a re-vitalized network emerged, led by a diverse, talented, and united leadership team.  Serving on the PCAN Leadership Team are the Rev. Theresa Cho, Mr. Frank Dimmock, the Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris, the Rev. Rebecca Kirkpatrick, the Rev. Doug Mitchell, Mr. Paul Ronningen, Ms. Brandi White, Dr. Dianna Wright, and Ms. Gail Tyree as liaison from PHEWA’s Presbyterian Criminal Justice Network (PCJN).

Their first act was the development of a child-focused election year resource.

Recognizing PCAN's historic role in setting standards for childhood health and safety, and aware of the challenges faced by today's children, the team decided to create material informed by the traditional Masai greeting, "And how are the children?" PCAN's "And How Are the Children?" election year resource invites candidates and church members alike to look at the issues and their own records through the lens of child advocacy. 

As election season swings into gear, you are encouraged to download this document; forward it to those who might be planning candidate forums; use it in your own interactions with candidates; use it to assist your mission committee in future planning. However you decide to utilize it, it is PCAN's gift to the Church, the children, and you.

Encourage your friends and colleagues to support the ministry of the Presbyterian Child Advocacy Network, and to stay connected with us through membership in PHEWA and PCAN and the other intersecting networks of PHEWA.


2012 National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® Celebration

Dear Lord Be Good to Me The Sea is so Wide and My Boat is so small

October 19-21, 2012 is designated as Children’s Sabbath Weekend by the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and is themed “Pursuing Justice for Children and the Poor with Urgency and Persistence; A Multi-Faith Resource for Year-Round Child Advocacy.”  Download the complete 34 page manual or visit the Children’s Defense Fund website and download just the sections of the manual you will use. Deep thanks to our own Rev. Shannon Daley-Harris & to all who work with her on this consistently excellent resource!

President of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman writes, “I hope that you will use the Children’s Sabbath weekend to focus your place of worship on the sacred charge to nurture and protect children and the poor, to equip members with new understanding about the huge threats facing children and democracy, and to join together as a place of worship and with other places of worship in your community and across our nation to ensure a level playing field for every child.  I hope you will form a Children’s Action Team (CAT) to make your community a safe and positive space for all children.  And I hope you will use the Children’s Sabbath to reach out to new partners to pinpoint your community’s existing strengths and needs and develop action strategies to fill in the gaps. The Children’s Sabbath, of course, is about much more than one weekend—it is about the long-term action for which the Children’s Sabbath weekend equips and inspires us.”

Child abuse awareness materials

Child abuse is usually not just one physical attack or a single instance of failure to meet a child’s most basic needs, although it may be. Usually it is a pattern of behavior taking place over a period of time. It involves intentional acts committed by a parent, caregiver or person in a position of trust who threatens to harm or harms a child’s physical or emotional welfare. Child abuse and neglect cut across all ages, races, genders, creeds and socioeconomic groups. It is a violation of the covenant that we have to care for the “least of these.”

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