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Spotlight on Services: Children’s Programming

Written By: The Women’s Center staff

Experiencing abuse can have serious effects on a child’s mental and emotional state, performance in school, and attitude towards life in general. Here at The Women’s Center, we work to give our youngest clients the care and support they need to process their trauma and heal.

We offer comprehensive programming, counseling, and support for children who have witnessed family violence or are survivors of abuse and violence themselves. This support includes:

Children’s Advocacy:  We help youth adjust to the shelter environment, make sure they feel comfortable and secure, and provide any and all necessities: clothing, personal care products, and age-appropriate items to help them feel at home. We provide academic support, facilitating school enrollment, safe transportation to and from school, school supplies, and we coordinate with school staff regarding any additional needs or supports. We work with youth to develop a safety plan, and plan fun activities and special field trips throughout the year to help families strengthen relationships. 2019 activities for families included special nights of community, fun, and family bonding for our clients through Celebrate Children’s Day and Fall Family Fest evenings.

Family Support: We offer counseling to parents and their children, helping them address and process their experiences, learn effective communication and coping skills, and repair relationships that have been impacted by abuse. We also work individually with adults on positive parenting techniques and strategies for supporting their children. Support and resources are also available to to families at the Child Advocacy Center of Waukesha County (The C.A.R.E. Center). The C.A.R.E. Center conducts a comprehensive examination of suspected victims of child abuse, including a forensic evaluation and recorded interview. Our Family Advocate also works with parents to offer emotional support, provide referrals to additional community agencies as needed, and discuss coping and self-care strategies for both parent and child.

Youth Counseling: We provide short-term crisis counseling and support groups for youth, both for victim and witness survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Through counseling, children process their emotions, learn healthy coping skills, identify protective behaviors, learn about the different forms of abuse, discuss non-violent problem-solving skills, and come to understand that they are not to blame for their victimization. Age-appropriate support groups and workshops are offered on a variety of topics to facilitate skill building and provide the opportunity for survivors to connect with one another. We also utilize art and play therapy with clients to help them express and process their feelings.

Community Education and Violence Prevention: This program works to mitigate the alarming statistics of intimate partner violence through prevention. We conduct interactive presentations with students at local schools and other youth organizations, teaching them about the different forms of abuse, what constitutes a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one, the dynamics of power and control in a relationship, and how to support and be an “upstander.” Experienced staff members serve as advocates, counselors, and caretakers to help families process, heal, and move beyond the cycle of abuse. This program is at the core of our mission to provide safety, shelter, and support to those impacted by abuse and is key to interrupting the cycle of family violence.