What we do
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of the children that die from abuse are under the age of 4. 40% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.
Because our goal is to end the cycle of violence in families, we place great emphasis on our children's services. When children arrive they may be very quiet and scared, afraid to interact with others, doing poorly in school, and have unstable relationships.
Being exposed to violence has been linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, asthma, and stroke. Exposure is also tied to mental health problems, like Post Traumatic stress disorder, stress anxiety, and depression.
Studies show children from violent homes often suffer from sleep difficulties, regression, separation anxiety, and increased aggression, distractibility, and withdrawal. But we soon see the impact of our program as their depression levels and behavior change. Therapy helps children learn to express their feelings of fear, opening the door to recovery and increased self-esteem. They take developmentally appropriate steps forward in play and communication. Relationships between mothers and children and among siblings become more stable, supportive, and loving. Children who complete the program show improvement in social skills, self-confidence, and general well-being, increasing the likelihood that the cycle of violence will end.
Counseling and Addiction Services: Our children have the benefit of on-site therapy services provided by two agencies in addition to support from our staff members. Children younger than three are evaluated and treated by Early Intervention, a program offered through Child & Family Connections that assesses very young children for social, developmental, and emotional issues and developmental delays. Children age three and over are counseled by Children’s Research Triangle, an organization that provides clinical services for children with special needs or those who are at risk for developmental, behavioral, psychological or educational problems. Depending on the family’s needs, the therapists also work with the mother and child together. Some children also participate in outside counseling, either alone or with their mothers. Families are entitled and encouraged to continue working with both Early Intervention and Children’s Research Triangle after they leave House of the Good Shepherd. Community Casework & Counseling provides bilingual counseling for women and children.
Afterschool Program Ages 6-18: Our Afterschool and academic enrichment programs are conducted in a large activity room on the main floor of the Safety and Family Healing Center.
Currently, Chicago HOPES provides vetted volunteers for the After-School program at House of the Good Shepherd and Madonna House. House of the Good Shepherd has a dedicated on-site space for the After-School program and this ensures safety and confidentiality for families. Measurements conducted by Chicago Hopes indicated 100% of children enrolled and assessed in the spring 2016 program, either maintained their reading level or improved; and 81% of children went up by one or more reading levels by the end of the program.
The effect of this healing and growth in children traumatized by domestic violence makes it more likely that the cycle of violence will not continue in future generations.