The Envision Counselling and Support Centre is pleased that it has received funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation for its Growing Together program.
The Growing Together program is for families that are enrolled in the Children Exposed to Violence (CEV) program, in which the parent is also involved with Envision in some way.
Christa Daku, the executive director at Envision, said they were informed of the funding at the end of September, and they now have their program plan in place.
She believes there is sufficient demand for the program.
The CEV program started in 2008, and Envision has been looking for ways to expand and enhance that program to allow for family healing.
“The Children Exposed to Violence program consistently sees about 60 children per year,” said Daku.
The numbers for that program are lower than the other programs, because they do have just the one counsellor available, which means they a lower capacity for the program.
“If we’re seeing a child, the custodial parent also has involvement with our counsellors, so there’s follow-up and there are emails back and forth and program planning. We try to enhance the whole family unit, and that is part of this growing together program.”
The counsellor speaks to the child about emotion regulation, dealing with and identifying feelings, education surrounding interpersonal violence, and setting boundaries at a young age.
“It’s really skills that are going to enhance these children that have been exposed to domestic violence, to hopefully lead them to healthier relationships down the road, so the cycle doesn’t continue,” said Daku. “It’s on a client-led basis, so we don’t have a script per se for exactly every client, but we do have a variety of skills that build on one another to walk the client through the variety of sessions. It’s based on a number sessions, and obviously if something happens in a child’s life, the counsellor will deal with that.”
While Envision wasn’t given any reasons why Growing Together was selected for the grant, Daku believes it’s because they are putting an emphasis on the healing of the family.
“There are a lot issues that a single parent deals with when they leave domestic violence. Often there are financial issues. They’re dealing with their own trauma and healing. We want to enhance the skills of the whole family so that they can support one another, and the parenting component we have found is very crucial to the healing of the child as well,” said Daku.
Many of the children in the CEV program are from single-parent homes, but some are from two-parent homes.
Growing Together is offered at Envision’s Estevan office. Those who want to access the program need to travel to Estevan, and the funding from the Canadian Women’s Foundation allows Envision to provide gas cards and meet other transportation expenses to support the family to get the child into counselling.
“Something we always keep in mind is the best interests of the child. It’s not necessarily in their best interests to be in school all day and then have to travel an hour and a half to see the CEV counsellor in Estevan.”
The local agency was one of just two Saskatchewan organizations to receive a violence prevention grant from the foundation, and one of just 20 in the country.
While Envision does receive funding from the foundation via the Shelter through the Storm fund, this is the first time Envision has received program funding from the foundation, so this is a positive step for the agency.