“Mom seems really upset lately. I asked her what was wrong, and she didn’t answer me. She used to always greet me with a smile when I got back from school, which I never see anymore. I think she’s afraid of Dad; he always gets really angry when he’s around her. They always tell me to go up to my room but I can hear the yelling from there. Mom never seems to yell back and just listens. I want to ask and know what’s wrong, but Mom would never tell me. It’s hard to fall asleep sometimes; usually I’m worried that Mom is sad. Being at home makes me sad too, because I’m scared of all the yelling. I want to help Mom, but have no idea what to do.”
Domestic violence affects children, too. At Women’s Center & Shelter, the goal of our Children’s Program is to help children feel safe and explore their feelings in a positive environment. While the mothers are discussing housing, employment, and other pressing concerns, children are able to feel safe and cared for. The Program has many activities that promote physical, emotional, interpersonal, and social wellness for each child, all while giving them the support they need to cope with trauma and heal in a steady and positive manner. Here at WC&S, we help children all the way from birth up to and including age seventeen (for young men). What are the different types of support we offer for the children?
Children talking about the way they feel is instrumental in the recovery and moving forward from witnessing domestic abuse. Our Child Advocates provide daily check-ins with the children so they’re able to express how they’re feeling and receive the help and support they need. The children also receive information about domestic violence; however, all of the information is age-appropriate and provided to the children only at the right time. If extra counseling is needed, the children are referred to counseling resources to help them cope with their emotions. Some types of therapy we provide here at WC&S are music and writing therapy.
On-site programming is offered before and after school through the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, to help make sure kids are performing to the best of their abilities. There is access to tutoring, reading programs, a Computer Learning Center at WC&S. We also offer a library full of books and school supplies for those who need them!
Interpersonal and Social support
To help the children socialize, have fun, and just be kids, we offer field trips and summer camps, letting kids build connections and friendships. In August, we host our annual Children’s Festival, as well as ongoing events scheduled with our partner organizations such as Lab Rats, Carnegie Museum, the Dreaming Pillow Project, and Beverly’s Birthdays. Volunteers at WC&S often host children’s parties, with games, arts and crafts, treats, and activities. Many of the activities include celebrating cultural diversity, which allows the children to recognize and embrace their diverse backgrounds!
Advocacy and Referrals
Many of our community partners allow for connections to medications, clothing, prescription eyeglasses, and other necessities. We offer contact with school advocacy services, and facilitate school enrollment and transportation. We also provide access to a pediatrician and dentist for children staying in Emergency Shelter.
“Mom seems so much happier now. There is no more yelling, so I can finally get a good night’s sleep. I saw her smile for the first time in forever; I missed her being happy. I was finally able to talk to someone and tell them how the entire situation at home made me feel. They understood how scary it was and taught me ways to make myself feel better. I still get to do all of my schoolwork, and get help from people when my homework is too hard. I have met some other kids here, and look forward to the fun field trips we get to go on together! Most importantly, I feel safe here at the Shelter, as does Mom, and we don’t have to live in fear anymore!”