New Beginnings provides services to help alleviate the trauma experienced by children and teens, and address the fear, anger and guilt that results from living with abuse. Domestic violence is a learned behavior. We work with these youngest survivors to help them learn how to express anger appropriately and to learn the skills necessary to engage in loving and mutually respectful relationships. We have continued to strategically increase our services for children and teens, with the ultimate goal of offering as much support for young people who have witnessed or experienced violence as we currently do for battered women.
In 2011, New Beginnings served over 350 children and teens with advocacy and children's programming in the Community Advocacy Program (CAP), Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing Program (THP), and served over 165 adolescents through Owning Up groups in Seattle's middle schools and violence prevention workshops in the community.
The following services are offered to children in one or more of our direct service programs.
Children's advocates spend one-on-one time with a child and/or a mother. This time can be used to discuss any concerns or problems, or to get questions answered pertaining to childrens issues. During this time the advocate can safety plan with the child, be present to validate his or her feelings, educate on domestic violence or simply be present to play games and have fun with the child.
At Kids' Club we help children learn how to express and articulate their feelings more openly. Using visual techniques, talk, and play, we help children recognize what "mean and hurtful" behavior looks and feels like, and that this behavior is a choice that is never acceptable. There are planned activities to help the children share their feelings and learn positive ways to express themselves in a group setting. Topics range from exploring feelings, defining violence, talking about bullying and creating safety plans.
The CDVRT (Childrens Domestic Violence Response Team) is a collaboration between New Beginnings and Sound Mental Health to provide professional counseling services for children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence. The child is the primary patient although the non-abusive parent and siblings may become part of the process. Children as young as 1 ½ have received counseling through this program. Our staff also facilitates individual and group sessions with the non-abusive parent to increase positive parenting skills that support a child's healing process.
Many times children in our residential programs miss a significant amount of school for various reasons. During homework time the childrens advocates or volunteers help the children with their schoolwork, and offer extra assistance and tutoring in reading, reading comprehension, writing, and mathematics. New Beginnings provides activity books and games that help stimulate the child and make it fun to learn.
A group specifically designed for teens to talk about what is happening in their world. Topics have included chemical dependency, bullying, healthy eating, and expressive writing. The groups are facilitated by a children's advocate and a guest speaker.
The children and moms, along with the children's advocates and volunteers, go on outings. Outings have included trips to: Golden Gardens, Pacific Science Center, the Pumpkin Patch, sports events, Lake Washington for sailing, and visits to local community theatres. The purpose of these outings is to provide a positive experience during which families can work on re-building family bonds that may have been disrupted due to the domestic violence they experienced.
The Transitional Housing Program hosts a family fun night to encourage family relationships, bonding, and community. Fun Nights have included: bingo, arts and crafts, fall holiday events, pizza at the park, and movie nights.
The parenting curriculum is designed to help parents who have experienced domestic violence understand the impact on their children and themselves; to teach parents how to talk to and listen to their children about their experience of the violence; to encourage childrens' resiliency; and, to support parents in strengthening their relationships with their children. Childcare is provided during this time.
New Beginnings has facilitated Owning Up in Seattle middle schools since February 2006. In these groups, we utilize the Owning Up curriculum, a culturally-competent violence prevention program that has been thoroughly researched and evaluated as effective in increasing knowledge, skills and behavior associated with interpersonal violence. The Owning Up curriculum is gender-specific, and incorporates hands on, interactive activities such as role plays, journaling, and interviews. Owning Up groups are facilitated by the New Beginnings' Prevention Educator. Some groups are co-facilitated by school staff or New Beginnings' volunteers.