Assignment 7

Child abuse prevention center helps parents in crisis

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The long recession is having a ripple effect on families struggling with the loss of jobs, housing and and even transportation, and some are at risk of taking out their frustration on their children. That's why 18,000 calls a year are coming into the emergency talk line at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center.

The volunteers on the 24-hour talk line at the center are dealing with more and more intense calls from parents in crisis. Counselors are on staff to provide information and services that can help keep a family together, according to executive director Katie Albright.

"We provide mental health and counseling therapy services for individuals, couples, and children," says Albright. "Families can get immediate, emergency drop-in services and and also long-term services."

"I was receiving calls every Thursday morning from one of the counselors on the line," says Jennifer, a single mom. "She guided me through situations as a first-time mother... nursing and advice."

Parents and caregivers who come to the prevention center in an old renovated firehouse, have safe, free day care available while they attend counseling services.

"We have some of the most amazing caregivers who have been with us for 20 years," says Albright. "Kids can be supported and loved and get evaluation and assessments as well as play with art projects."

The Child Abuse Prevention Center is the lead agency in an effort to study the impact on children who witness domestic violence or violence in the community.

"Now we know because what we learned through brain development and a lot of research that's been done, that children are impacted and they begin acting out a lot of behaviors they saw, so we're trying to get in early to get services to children and families," says Kathy Baxter who works for the center.

Some parents are so strapped for cash, just struggling to make ends meet, that they can't even afford to buy diapers. So some parents have resorted to stealing them. But the ones who come to the center for treatment know that they can get basic services like diapers. They can also get children's clothes thanks to generous donations.

Community partners like Home Depot are helping, with nearly $100,000 of donated paint and labor to fix up part of the center. Plus, the Junior League comes in to cook for families once a week.

"Parenting is tough and so whenever it feels too much or just a little bit tough, you should call," says Baxter.

For more information about the San Francisco Child Abuse Center or their upcoming fundraiser, visit www.sfcapc.org.

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economy, recession, assignment 7, cheryl jennings
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