What is CAP?
The NJ Child Assault Prevention Project, known as CAP is a statewide child abuse prevention program with its central headquarters located in New Jersey. NJ CAP is supported and funded through the NJ Department of Children and Families http://www.nj.gov/dcf/families/assault/. It has 21 county offices and over 200 program facilitators.
Since its inception in 1985, CAP has trained over four million children, parents and teachers to prevent peer abuse or bullying, stranger abduction and known adult assault. CAP seeks to integrate the best resources of a community in an effort to reduce a child or young person’s vulnerability to any type of verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. New Jersey’s CAP projects work closely with the local school districts, parent/teacher associations and home school groups, and other community groups. CAP has a threefold educational approach to child abuse prevention which includes trainings in the following areas: Staff In service, Parent Programs and Individual Classroom Workshops for children and teens.
The CAP Motto
CAP is based on an empowerment philosophy. All of its curricula seek to reduce children’s vulnerability to abuse and violence by increasing awareness that children have rights and providing prevention strategies and resources to children.
The CAP motto is: “All Children Deserve to be Safe, Strong and Free.”
The mission of the New Jersey Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project shall be to improve the quality of life for the children in New Jersey by reducing the level of interpersonal violence through assault prevention education.
Since 1985, NJ CAP has offered the parents, teachers and children of New Jersey empowering information around issues of child safety. Through the efforts of CAP trained facilitators in all 21 counties, 3.5 million children have learned they have the right to be ‘Safe, Strong and Free’.
The Child Assault Prevention (CAP) Project originated in the late 1970’s, in Columbus, Ohio, as a response to the rape of a young child. Early in 1978, project staff of Women Against Rape (WAR) received a phone call from a teacher whose second grade student had been raped. The students in her class and parents of the school and the entire community were disturbed and frightened. At that time, few people discussed adult rape, let alone a sexual assault against a child. These families wondered how they could protect other children from abuse. Offering emotional support and empowering prevention information, the staff at WAR responded by developing the original Child Assault Prevention (CAP) curriculum. A year later, funding from a Ms. Foundation Challenge Grant allowed the program to be piloted in schools throughout Columbus. As CAP’s successes caught on beyond the city of Columbus and the state of Ohio, the National Center for Assault Prevention (NCAP) was created as a CAP training center. Sally Cooper, a champion of women’s and children’s rights, became its first Director. Sally, with her dedicated staff, went on to establish CAP in 40 of the 80 counties of Ohio and trained projects throughout the USA and in several other countries, including Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Grand Bahamas, Israel, and Ireland.
History of NJ CAP
In 1985, New Jersey’s Governor Thomas Kean, the Governor’s Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect, the NJ Department of Human Services with the support of the NJ Department of Education selected CAP as the New Jersey’s first statewide primary prevention program.
It was through the tenacious efforts of a former educator, Pat Stanislaski, which brought CAP to the attention of the Task Force. Pat had started the first local CAP project in her home town of Hillsborough. The success of the program convinced her that other districts throughout the State would benefit from CAP as well.
In 1985, The NJ Department of Human Services selected the New Jersey CAP (NJ CAP) project to be the primary prevention program in the state. CAP local offices were established in all 21 counties of the state. New Jersey CAP demonstrated how local community-based CAP programs supported by statewide government can be tremendously effective. Because of its outstanding record of statewide governmental and community support, in 1991 the NJ CAP project was asked to be the new site of the International CAP Center (www.internatonalCAP.org). and awarded the copyright of the CAP© program.
Pat Stanislaski went on to initiating projects in 22 US states and in 8 countries. In 1994, under a George Soros grant, ten Eastern European countries received CAP training and projects were established. Pat retired from CAP in June 2006 leaving the leadership of NCAP/ICAP to Jeannette Collins and Cheryl Mojta. Both women had been with CAP for over 20 years working closely with Pat, establishing new projects throughout the world.
Under their leadership, CAP has expanded the CAP’s Bullying Prevention program to include children in Kindergarten to 2nd grades. During their tenure a statewide certification program ensuring the quality of all CAP Programs and facilitators was instituted. All CAP Programs were aligned with the NJ DOE Core Curriculum Content Standards. The Preschool and Kindergarten Programs became the Early Childhood Curriculum. Cyber Empowerment Programs were introduced statewide with components for Adults, and students’ grades 3rd-8th. In 2018, we established an alternate 6th grade Elementary program and implemented it statewide. In March of 2020, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, we began to implement programs virtually to meet the need to empower adults and children. In September 2020, Jeannette Collins became the Executive Director of NJCAP Program.
In September 2020 and July 2022 Cheryl and Jeannette retired respectively. Upon their retirement Kim Pinto and Dodi Schultz became Co-Directors of New Jersey CAP. The two began as CAP facilitators, moving up to become county Coordinators. In time, both Kim and Dodi became Program Managers in the New Jersey CAP RTC, supervising counties throughout the state. Since taking over as Co-Directors, Kim and Dodi curated a presentation at the 2022 NJEA Convention on how CAP has aided school districts in New Jersey to meet the Erin’s Law mandate. Additionally, they have implemented numerous trainings throughout the state for incoming CAP facilitators, along with, Review Time trainings for seasoned facilitators.