You’ve received your W-2 in the mail, gathered your receipts and pulled together information on your investments. It’s time to begin work on filing your taxes. Whether you’re filing early in expectation of a refund or waiting until the last minute to pay the IRS, you have a chance to prevent child abuse by simply checking a box.

Through a checkoff box on Michigan tax forms, residents can contribute to the Children’s Trust Fund, a nonprofit within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that pays for child abuse prevention services. The Children’s Trust Fund checkoff box is on both the online and paper version of the Voluntary Contribution Schedule Form 4642.

The best part — your donations help the Children’s Trust Fund provide grants for programs and services in all 83 of Michigan’s counties to prevent child abuse.

Grants from the CTF support a wide range of programs and services through the statewide network of Child Abuse and Neglect Councils. Based on local priorities, local councils use funding for initiatives such as shaken baby and safe sleep education, parent support and child sexual assault prevention and education. CTF also funds 37 competitive grants that target at-risk families with services such as home visitation, support for families with incarcerated parents and respite care.

Every dollar donated through the tax campaign generates $31.64 in grants to local communities. Among the local programs that are funded:

In Wayne County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit uses Children’s Trust Fund dollars to provide mentors to youth with parents who are incarcerated.

In Oakland County, Oakland Family Services provides a Parents as Teachers program to increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices.

In Kent County, the Family Futures’ Connections Program makes sure parents have information about what to expect from their children, how to handle stress and how to access community resources.

The Children’s Trust Fund serves as a voice for Michigan’s children and families. It relies heavily on the contributions donated through the state income tax campaign to help build strong, healthy families and keep children safe. Since its creation in 1982, the CTF has raised more than $70 million and provided support to over 7 million children and families.

The annual Pam Posthumus Signature Auction Event held each May and Children’s Trust Fund license plates are other important fundraisers.

Child abuse and neglect happens far too often. In 2016, more than 37,000 children in our state were confirmed victims of abuse and neglect. At MDHHS, we see on a daily basis the sad stories of children who are harmed. Michigan needs its children to grow up safe and healthy. Prevention programs protect the safety and well-being of our children, who are our most valuable resources.

Please keep the Children’s Trust Fund and Michigan’s children in mind as you file your taxes this year. Check the Children’s Trust Fund box.

Michael Foley is executive director

of the Children’s Trust Fund.

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