In 1978, founder Marilyn Anderson, Child Protective Supervisor for York County, was invited to speak to a group at the Congregational Church in Saco. Marilyn described the plight of some youngsters in York County and aroused the concern of several listeners. A group of these interested people and other members of the social service professional community began meeting on a regular basis. There was a core group of seven individuals that eventually began the Council.
In August 1980, the York County Child Abuse and Neglect Council became incorporated. Later in November, Marilyn Staples was hired to be the first Executive Director.
The main focus has been to offer prevention and education based programs to children in local schools and community partnerships to promote the message that abuse is never their fault and to tell a trusted adult. Over the years, programming has expanded to offer parenting support and includes Nurturing Parenting and active parenting. Our school based programs include Baby Think It Over, Break the Silence, Project Prevention, Personal Body Safety and our newest: Project Empathy.
In 2005, our name changed to Child Abuse Prevention Council of York County and in 2009 we adopted the Kids Free To Grow name. We now serve both York and Cumberland Counties.
The focus of the Council continues to be on prevention in the school systems across Southern Maine. Each year the Council reaches over 7,000 students and 3,500 individuals through community outreach programs and education.