Hallie Biden is the founder and co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. To learn more about the Foundation, visit www.beaubidenfoundation.org.
At the end of November, the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children announced a major new partnership with Special Olympics International. Operation Safeguard will take the foundation’s programming to all 50 states in the next few years – and then to countries around the globe.
It’s hard to believe how quickly we have grown, but it’s clear why: you, our Delaware family.
We believe Delaware is the incubator for great ideas, new programming and great partnerships. We all know that Delaware is a small and tightly knit community — Beau always said that problems can be solved here because it’s simple to get all the stakeholders together around one table and bring about needed change. It’s the Delaware Way.
When we first embarked on our journey three years ago, we expected to work in schools, providing child sexual abuse prevention training; with summer camps, providing advice on best practices around background checks and child protection policies; with parents and PTAs answering questions about the apps their children were using.
We quickly realized the needs of youth-serving organizations were the same, regardless of the way they served children: parent groups wanted sexual abuse prevention training, schools were asking for advice on best practices, and summer camps wanted us to train their counselors to talk to kids about good digital citizenship.
So we created a program called the Shield of Protection Initiative, which helps youth-serving organizations improve their existing child protection policies, supplements their prevention education trainings, and encourages them to share important resources with the caretakers of the children they serve.
Once we had the program developed, we needed partners. Partners who would help us improve and refine the program. Help us incubate it, so to speak.
We did things the Delaware Way and reached out to a number of folks we trusted and knew — who knew us, who knew Beau, and who put child safety at the forefront.
A look back at Beau Biden‘s life
Our initial partners here in Delaware (Archmere Academy, The Delaware Nature Society, Children’s Beach House, to name a few) helped refine this program by helping us better understand what youth-serving organizations were doing well, what and where they could do better, and how we could help them improve the safety of the children they serve.
The most rewarding part of the process has been how the initial partners have helped us expand the Shield of Protection Initiative. Our program grew not because we advertised it, but through referrals and word of mouth. We now have Shield of Protection partners in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Washington, Oregon and California.
Beau’s commitment to protecting children from abuse didn’t stop when he crossed the border in to Maryland or Pennsylvania; he saw this as an issue he would fight on the national level. The way he would fight it, however, would be informed by his experience in Delaware.
Thanks to the support we have in the First State, the Shield of Protection Initiative is now the basis for our first truly national partnership with Special Olympics International. This alliance will ensure Beau’s work will continue across the country.
As we look forward into the new year, we would like to thank you, our Delaware family. Thank you for helping us protect children across the nation and grow beyond our state lines.
But most of all, thank you for being kind, willing, generous, collaborative, and supportive — that truly is the Delaware Way.
This article originally appeared in The News Journal on January 8, 2019. You can read it here.