Pilot program to address cycle of family violence

Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter

Ian Wheeliker, executive director of Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter

Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter is getting ready to offer a two-year pilot program to work with parents to address conflict in the home to mitigate the effects on their children.

Executive director Ian Wheeliker said the goal of the Nurturing Parenting Program (NPP) is to promote healthy parenting to reduce the risk of childhood toxic stress that impacts childhood development.

“Prevention is the key to the whole future. It’s trying to interrupt that generational cycle of domestic violence if we can,” Wheeliker said.

Last November, an anonymous donor provided about $200,000 for the pilot. Trained teams will operate NPP groups around Central Alberta.

“We just got the staffing in place and the training done and we’re going to be starting the prevention work with families that are interested in that kind of a program probably in the next couple of weeks.”

He said 60 families are expected to sign up right away. Families would participate for eight to 20 weeks depending on their needs.

The pilot is open to families at the shelter. Referrals will also be accepted from child protection agencies, schools, public health and other agencies working with families.

CAWES will be collecting data on families before and after participating in the program.

Wheeliker said the shelter has been continuing its efforts to work with women who can’t immediately get into the 40-bed shelter.

“Our numbers are pretty much the same as last year. We’ve been at or just under capacity. Usually when we get a couple bedrooms open we’ve got people on the expected list so we’re just waiting for them to arrive.”

On the weekend CAWES raised about $50,000 at its annual CAWESINO Royale event which typically raises between $50,000 and $60,000. Its annual awareness and fundraising campaign held at the end of the year usually raises $100,000 to $130,000. But in 2016 only $90,000 was collected.

Wheeliker said it’s still a tough economy in Central Alberta. To address the drop in donations some job vacancies for program staff have been left empty for longer periods of time.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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