Where are they now? Anesa Kajtazovic edition

Another Throwback Thursday post is coming later today, but I’ve been meaning to catch Bleeding Heartland readers up on Anesa Kajtazovic. She served two terms in the Iowa House, having stepped in following legal troubles for the previous Democratic incumbent in a Waterloo-based district. Kajtazovic did not seek re-election to the state legislature in 2014. Instead, she ran for Congress in Iowa’s first district, finishing fourth in the Democratic primary.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported in June that Kajtazovic had become executive director of the Family & Children’s Council of Black Hawk County, a non-profit “focused on child and sex abuse prevention, parenting education and other programming.” At this writing, the council’s website is down, but this note on the organization’s Facebook page summarizes various parenting classes, children’s programs, and family services offered in the Cedar Valley area. A few weeks ago, Holly Hudson reported for the Courier on Kajtazovic’s work for the Family & Children’s Council. I’ve posted excerpts after the jump, but I encourage you to click through to read the whole piece.

Our culture tends to glamorize success in the business world, rather than the non-profit sector. But I can hardly think of a more valuable way for Kajtazovic to dedicate her time and energy. The Family & Children’s Council is working on many of the most pressing issues related to children’s physical safety and long-term health. Vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death and serious injury; the council helps provide car seats to needy families and runs training sessions on how to use them properly. The council’s staff “visit well over 600 families [of newborns] a year in the hospitals,” according to Kajtazovic. That kind of outreach to parents of newborns has been shown to reduce child abuse. Social workers may also spot early risk factors for postpartum depression, helping women find resources if needed. Other staff or volunteers reach thousands of children in area schools with programs like “Take Charge of Your Body,” a curriculum aimed at preventing sexual abuse. Ideally, parents would teach their children about good touch/bad touch and similar rules. But since those conversations are not happening in many households, what a child learns at school about saying no, getting away, and telling an adult could be life-changing.

From Holly Hudson’s August 15 report for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier:

One of Kajtazovic’s first priorities is meeting the organization’s technology needs.

“I found out on my fourth day on the job that there were problems when my computer froze up,” she said. “Our server is decades old. I just completed a grant request for our technology needs. Data and keeping records is a huge part of our job.” […]

The car seat safety training session — offered in conjunction with EMBARC, the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center — is a good example of what Kajtazovic wants to perpetuate and build upon through the council.

“We want to develop our relationships with other organizations and serve the community,” she said.

The council already works closely with a number of community groups — ranging from Head Start and Operation Threshold to Lutheran Services of Iowa and local hospitals — and offers a variety of programs for family members.

One of those programs, Baby and Me, offers parents an opportunity to meet other parents of newborns, add to their parenting skills and interact with their children in a variety of activities such as music, yoga and massage.

Another program, Wise Guys, focuses on fathers and young men.

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