Saturday is National Day of Encouragement

The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center is taking the day's meaning to heart.

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Here's a little something good to help start your weekend.

Saturday is National Day of Encouragement.

And after a year like 2020, everybody could use a little encouragement right now.

The Dallas Children's Advocacy Center is taking the meaning of the day to heart.

DCAC is the only agency of its kind in Dallas County, working in agreement with public and private agencies to investigate, prosecute, and provide healing services for child abuse cases in Dallas County.

This weekend, the center is encouraging parents and caregivers to take a little extra time to uplift and praise a child this weekend.

"Right now is a really difficult time for a lot of people, kids especially are having to adjust to so many different changes," said Jenna Sampson, volunteer coordinator for DCAC. "Children are having to adapt more than ever."

Sampson offered some tips on how you can encourage your children during these uncertain times.

"Be as specific as possible when you give encouragement and praise! For example, instead of just saying “Good job!” tell your child specifically what they did a good job on," she said. "When encouraging your child, avoid comparing them to their friends or siblings. Encourage them for the things they do well or are improving without comparing their performance or abilities to another child’s."

As some students grapple with virtual learning and being away from the classroom, Sampson said it's also important to explain the bigger picture to your child when you encourage them.

"For example, explain that it’s not just about getting this one assignment done on time, but it’s about meeting deadlines and being a responsible student as a whole," she said.

Another way to celebrate National Day of Encouragement is through encouragement bracelets or key chains featuring a special message.

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Normally, DCAC works on these types of projects with kids in person but this year, they're asking families to make their own key chains at home and even consider donating some to the center.

"We'll be able to give this bracelet or keychain to a client that's going on their own healing journey through our center," said Sampson. "We're serving over 7,000 children every year so what we want to do is make sure each one of the children that come through our center feels that bit of encouragement and hope."

The center has not let the pandemic stop them from their work serving abused children.

In fact, they're still working with families through telehealth and socially distant services. They're also delivering supplies like toiletries, clothes and toys for clients as more children continue to enter the court system.

Since the pandemic, Sampson said they have seen a decrease in the number of reports coming through their center.

"If you look at our statistics, what we've seen is we've actually had about a 43 percent decrease in the number of reports that have come through since the stay at home order was put in place," she said.

But that's not necessarily a good thing.

"To the untrained ear, that might sound like good news. But what we really know is child abuse thrives in secrecy," Sampson explained. "And when our children aren't in front of those safe and supportive people - teachers, daycare workers, coaches - those are the folks that are most often making child abuse reports. So when they're not in front of those people, those reports don't come in and that's where our concern starts to grow for these kids."

DCAC reads every report of child abuse in Dallas County - about 28,000 reports each year - and then coordinates the cases that rise to the level of a criminal offense.

In the next few months, DCAC said it needs help with donations of pajamas, toys and books for the upcoming holidays. Click here to help.

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