Domestic Violence can deny children the joys of childhood
Domestic Violence can destroy a child’s sense of safety
Domestic Violence can threaten a child’s physical and emotional development
Domestic Violence can ruin a child’s self esteem
Every child has the right to live in a safe environment. Our role is to nurture and support child witnesses of Domestic Violence, those children living in environments that are not safe, by providing them with a safe place to play and learn, where they experience non-violent behaviors and assurance that the violence happening at home is not their fault.
Violence is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. Through children we can break the cycle of violence and prevent future generations from living with the threats and fears of family violence.
Childrens in Shelter
Each child that comes into shelter at the Community Crisis Center is experiencing a crisis, whether there has been physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse to the mother and/or the child.
Children are experiencing:
- Living in a new environment
- Living with new people
- Temporary loss of significant people, familiar surroundings and special items, toys, etc. in their lives.
- Children can enjoy:
- Safe environment
- Age appropriate, non-sexist play opportunities
- A playroom with a computer lab
- Support, nurture, encouragement
- Children receive:
- Education about domestic violence, the cycle of violence, safety plans, violence is a learned behavior
- Knowledge of appropriate ways to identify and express feelings, self-esteem
- Services provided:
- Advocacy – linkage with community services, schools, health care
- Group counseling – issue oriented, play and enrichment groups
- Individual counseling – addressing specific issues related to the individual child’s needs
Advocacy services for child clients at the Community Crisis Center include:
- The intake process, including completing intake forms with the mother, assessing for special needs and creating a service plan for the child client.
- Providing referrals to other agencies (DCFS, social service agencies, mental health and medical facilities and schools), school registration and transportation needs, and collaborative case management with other agencies and schools.
INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN’S COUNSELING: Children in shelter with their mothers receive individual counseling when requested by the mother or when staff identifies specific needs during an assessment or observation of the child. A licensed clinical therapist provides individual assessments of a child client. Based on the assessment, the child will receive individual counseling with the licensed clinical therapist or a member of the Children’s Program staff. Individual counseling will address some or all of the following issues related to Domestic Violence: identification of the Cycle of Violence, understanding the dynamics of Domestic Violence, creating safety plans, identification of feelings and appropriate expression of feelings and learning new skills to live a healthy, non-violent lifestyle.
CHILDREN’S GROUP COUNSELING:
- DV children’s support groups meet weekly, focusing on a specific topic each week. These topics include: keeping our bodies safe, bullying, safety plans, identification of the cycle of violence, understanding the dynamics of DV, listening, identification of feelings and appropriate expression of feelings, conflict resolution skills and empowering children with the knowledge of how to live a healthy, non-violent lifestyle. For teen-age girls, dating violence and dating safety are also included.
- Play groups are important because they provide the opportunity for children in shelter to play without interruption in a safe environment, interact with other children, experience age appropriate play without responsibility for younger siblings and practice new behaviors. Playgroups are provided for pre-school age children in the mornings and school age children in the afternoon or evening times.
- Homework group occurs weekday afternoons when the playroom is open only for school age children, providing time for children to complete their homework and work on computer projects in the computer lab. This group is facilitated by a staff with high school volunteers to provide the individual help with homework and computer projects.
- Parenting group is a critical part of the Children’s Program, providing the mothers with the opportunity to improve their parenting skills, support each other in their struggle as single parents and most important identify the strengths they already have as parents and individuals. The weekly tops for the “Peaceful Parenting” group and the accompanying children’s group use similar topics each week including: feelings, self-esteem; conflict resolution; communication skills; effects of DV on children; Cycle of Violence and discipline.
VOLUNTEERS IN THE CHILDREN’S PROGRAM
Every children’s group is facilitated by a Children’s Program staff member or intern, who is often assisted by one or several volunteers. These volunteers must be high school students or older and have completed the required screening and training. Our volunteers provide positive role models and individual attention for children in shelter.
WALK – IN SERVICES
Advocacy for walk-in clients is similar to that of shelter resident children.
- Completing the intake forms with mother, assessing the child for special needs and creating a service plan
- Referrals to other social service and mental health agencies, collaborative case management with schools and other agencies
INDIVIDUAL CHILDREN’S COUNSELING:
Individual children’s counseling is available for walk-in clients on an appointment basis only for children/youth, ages 5-17, when the mother is a current CCC client. These counseling sessions are facilitated by one of the following Children’s Program staff: licensed clinical counselor, children’s program coordinator or case manager, master’s level intern. These sessions are designed to meet the specific needs of each client and address the dynamics of DV as experienced by these child witnesses, including: identifying the Cycle of Violence, the dynamics of DV, identification of feelings and communication skills.
CHILDREN’S DV SUPPORT GROUPS:
We have 2 Children’s DV Support Groups that meet concurrently with the Women’s DV Support group that their mothers attend. The focus of this group is to provide support and a safe space for children living with domestic violence at home. These groups are age specific, one for children ages 4-10 and the other for ages 10-13, addressing issues faced by these children at an age appropriate level. Children can attend these groups as long as their mothers are members of their group. Issues addressed in these DV support groups include: the Cycle of Violence, the dynamics of DV, understanding that the violence in their home is not their fault, awareness of feelings, increased self-esteem, conflict resolution skills, communication skills and empowering children with the knowledge of how to live a healthy, non-violent lifestyle.
HELP IS AVAILABLE AT THE COMMUNITY CRISIS CENTER, 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK –
CALL 847-697-2380 (Ayuda en español 1-847-697-9740),
TTY for the Deaf 1-847-742-4057