This time of year, “Back to School” permeates the conversations of children and adults. Children, while acting disappointed about the end of summer, actually whisper (or text) excitedly about re-connecting with friends and shopping for first day of school outfits. Moms barely conceal their anticipation of a return to routine while simultaneously dreading back to school shopping trips.
Families living in shelters for domestic violence victims, like SafeHaven, are no different. Every child who enters a shelter during the school year needs supplies, a backpack, clothing and shoes. This year, take the opportunity to be a part of a time honored tradition as child victims return to public and on-site shelter schools across the state.
When school aged children enter our shelters, they leave with the supplies, clothing and shoes we provide. Therefore, in protecting Texas children each year, domestic violence shelters require an endless quantity of materials. By donating the coveted “good crayons” and new clothing that make children’s eyes sparkle, you remove the fear and anxiousness children experience when entering a new school environment, not just in August, but every month during the school year.
Due to recent domestic violence homicides in Tarrant County, at least a dozen children won’t experience preparing for back to school with their mothers. Nothing grieves us more than this senseless loss of life. However, families who come to our shelters are safe. Over 1,300 children will find respite in SafeHaven of Tarrant County’s two shelters this year, only a fraction of the thousands of children who live with their mothers in family violence facilities across Texas. For these children, this is the beginning of a new life that embraces hope and rejects fear.
On their behalf, thank you for helping Texas families suffering from domestic abuse celebrate their freedom and prepare for “Back to School” like all other children.
Mary Lee Hafley
President and CEO
SafeHaven of Tarrant County
TCFV Board Member
TCFV Individual Member
SafeHaven of Tarrant County is a Category I Member. For more information, click here.
Shelters throughout Texas work diligently to ensure that when children come to shelter, their educational needs are not interrupted. Programs are addressing these needs in a variety of ways. Some shelters advocate for the children’s needs by accompanying mother and child to meet with school personnel. Other shelters have on-site schools that are either charter schools or that are run by the local school district.
In this issue, we highlight Safe Haven of Tarrant County, a program that is working to make sure the children who come to shelter are having their educational needs met.
Safe Haven of Tarrant County, Ft. Worth
SafeHaven of Tarrant County’s onsite school is one way child victims and their mothers stay safe. On average, 15 to 20 children are enrolled in the school at a time and attend daily. Two Fort Worth ISD teachers teach full time, one for kindergarten through fifth grade and one for middle school and high school. The district also provides after school tutors three times per week. The school keeps kids in a routine and makes the process of re-enrolling them in their regular school more seamless with less interruption in their education.
“It also helps them normalize their situation because they are with peers who are going through the same things and they don’t have to explain their situation to the teachers or their peers,” said Jessica Bregnard, Children’s Program Coordinator at SafeHaven.
Many child victims of domestic violence have not attended school for long periods of time. The small classes and ample one-on-one time with teachers help students catch up and make progress toward getting back on the curriculum schedule of their regular school while they are in the shelter.
“It also isn’t uncommon for kids to come here who have never been enrolled in school and we get them started immediately,” said Bregnard. “That is an accomplishment for them in itself.”
One high school-aged client, Larry, was able to gain a scholarship to a prestigious science camp after maintaining his schooling through SafeHaven’s program.
Safe Haven of Tarrant County is a Category 1 member. For more information, click here.
In addition to providing for children who have experienced or witnessed violence in their families, some programs are reaching out to children in a different way, with family violence prevention as the goal.
Sherman Crisis Center
Long a provider of both sexual assault and domestic violence services, the Crisis Center in Sherman is busy implementing prevention programming in its community. Creative prevention efforts for the future are also in the works.
The Second Step Program teaches social skills to young people, ages Pre-K through eighth grade, including empathy training, conflict resolution, emotion management, problem solving, and, most popularly, anger management. Sessions are also available for whole families.
A lecture-based Healthy Relationships class is geared toward middle and high school aged youth, and like Second Step, the Healthy Relationship class is also available to parents, who can apply what they learn in their homes.
The Crisis Center drew inspiration for their future Youth Activism program from TAASA’s Texas Peace Project. This countywide program seeks to support youth interested in programming to address factors that promote violence such as gender oppression and racism. The youth leaders would shape and carry out activities designed to reach their peers and classmates.
Lastly, the Center’s Prevention Team is excited about their newest staff member who uses social media as a tool to present prevention concepts, to raise general awareness, and to educate the community at large about the Center’s services.
Sherman Crisis Center is a Category I member. For more information, click here.
Community Partner Highlight
JANE’S DUE PROCESS
Jane’s Due Process is the only organization in Texas dedicated to providing legal representation for and protecting the rights of pregnant minors. They operate a 24-hour legal hotline that provides information and assistance for pregnant teens, many of whom are the victims of abuse.
Pregnant teens often encounter a vicious cycle of violence, as dating violence increases a teen’s likelihood of getting pregnant and being pregnant is, in turn, associated with an increased risk of assault. In 2010, 20 percent of hotline callers reported having experienced physical or emotional abuse from a parent or guardian, and 24 percent feared being kicked out of the home or disowned for being pregnant.
Jane’s Due Process would be happy to provide more information regarding the rights of pregnant teenagers (in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese). To request copies of our handbook, The Rights of Pregnant Teenagers in Texas, brochures, or other information, please contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach the legal hotline at 1-866-WWW-JANE (1-866-999-5263).
Jane’s Due Process is a TCFV Category III member. For more information, click here.
Get Involved! BACK TO SCHOOL DRIVES: A great way to support your local shelter and family violence agency is by donating school supplies. Visit our online service directory to find the family violence program in your community and give them a call to see if they are accepting back-to-school donations.
Resources on Domestic Violence and Its Effect on Children for Parents, Teachers and Advocates
Helping Children Who Witness Domestic Violence: A Guide for Parents (Instructor’s Manual), Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse http://www.mincava.umn.edu/documents/materials/instructor.html
Domestic Violence can affect your child at school, Parent’s PLACE http://www.masslegalhelp.org/uploads/tx/ni/txniVqbv8pbwXsfeAiiAdA/Domestic-Violence-Can-Affect-Your-Child-At-School.pdf
Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: A Teacher’s Handbook to Increase Understanding and Improve Community Responses, Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System http://www.lfcc.on.ca/teacher-us.PDF
Woman Abuse Affects our Children: An Educator’s Guide http://www.lfcc.on.ca/Educators_Guide_to_Woman_Abuse.pdf
Domestic Violence and the Child Welfare System, Child Welfare Information Gateway http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/domesticviolence.cfm
Resource list on Domestic Violence and Children, Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System http://www.lfcc.on.ca/children_exposed_to_domestic_violence.html
TNOYS 28th Annual Conference on Services to Youth and Families (Austin, TX) August 17-19. Click here to register.
Working with Men and Boys to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence: Lessons Learned from Delta Programs (Webinar) August 19, 11:00am-12:30pm PT. Click here to register.
Family Violence/Department of Family and Protective Services: MOU and A Guide for Best Practice (Webinar) August 25. Click here to register. **Only HHSC funded programs are encouraged to participate
Compassion Fatigue: How it may manifest in your organization (Webinar) August 25, 1:00pm-2:00pm. Click here to register.
Authenticity and Connection: Exploring the Power of Being Enough (Webinar) August 31, 1:00pm-2:00pm. Click here to register.
Teen Dating Violence and Prevention (Webinar) September 8, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm PT. Click here to register.
Texas Nonprofit Summit- Leading the Charge for Social Change (Austin, TX) September 8-9. Click here to register.
Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (EJS) Workshop (Baltimore, MD) September 18-21. Click here for more information.
Unified- Working Together to End Sexual and Domestic Abuse (Arlington, TX) September 29-30. Click here to register.
The Texas Conference for Women (Houston, TX) November 17, 2011. Click here to register.
Enhancing Judicial Skills in Domestic Violence Cases (EJS) Workshop (Santa Fe, NM) December 4-7. Click here for more information.
Responding to Crime Victims with Disabilities National Training Conference (Orlando, FL) December 13-15. Click here for more information.
The 6th Biennial National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence (San Francisco, CA) March 29-30, 2012. Click here for more information.