LA CASA DE LAS MADRES Overview
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Target demographics: Domestic violence is a crime that affects all members of society regardless of race, culture, economic class, educational background, age, sexual orientation or physical ability. Accordingly, La Casa’s services are available to all domestic violence victims and survivors.
To facilitate access, we also actively strive to reach underserved and vulnerable groups including women of color, low income families, young mothers, youth aging out of foster care, immigrants, monolingual non-English speakers (particularly Spanish), LGBTQQI, the geographically isolated, and women with disabilities.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 14,386
Someone who had 3 hours of volunteer time could: could enhance and improve the living space of the women and children fleeing violence at our Emergency Shelter through La Casa de las Madres’ Adopt-A-Room Program. Adopt-A-Room donors help us to furnish our shelter’s individual bedrooms, from head to toe, creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere where a woman and her children can find peace and heal. Purchased items are brought to La Casa’s Drop In Center, where La Casa offers ongoing support to survivors who have left the shelter or are not in need of immediate safety.
Geographic areas served: Women, children and Teens in the bay area
Programs: Domestic violence victims must be able to access safety as well as services supporting their transition to a violence free life. La Casa provides that bridge for battered women, teens and children seeking to escape abuse in their intimate partnerships. Our comprehensive services are multilingual, with specific English/Spanish capacity, and completely free of charge. Our expert intervention and prevention services reach more than 50,000 community members each year.
Calling a crisis line is often the first step for a victim of domestic violence to reach out for help. Through our two (2) 24-hour Crisis Phone Lines we are able to provide callers with statewide, toll-free support, crisis counseling and information about community resources and services.
La Casa Family Advocates are also on-site with the San Francisco Police Department's Domestic Violence Response Unit, at what is often the first point of access for domestic violence victims. Through the Domestic Violence Response Team, our Advocates accompany officers in responding to crime scene calls, follow up on police and medical reports indicating violent crimes against women, and assist medical personnel responding to abuse. Advocates provide crisis intervention and help professionals to identify victims’ needs, encourage victims’ safety and facilitate their access to services. Skilled legal service coordination also ensures victims’ civil legal needs, like restraining orders, receive immediate attention.
La Casa also has the capacity to shelter and provide comprehensive advocacy and support services to 35 women and children per night. Our 8-week Emergency Shelter Program emphasizes independent living skills and individual counseling, support groups and vocational/educational referrals to reverse the isolation caused by domestic violence. Family Advocates assist each woman and her children with counseling, referrals, court and social service accompaniment, advocacy re legal, housing, job training and placement, financial and medical needs. The shelter program also utilizes family-based interventions, working with women and their children together as a family unit to strengthen families in crisis and break the intergenerational cycle of violence. Our collaborative model supports mothers in providing positive and developmentally enriching experiences for their children through mother/child playgroups; individual counseling; art and movement therapies; and day care, after-school and day camp programs.
Through the Drop-In Counseling Center La Casa is able to meet the initial and ongoing needs of battered women and their children. Drop-In Counseling Center staff provide individual counseling and facilitate support groups for women who have left the shelter but wish to continue their counseling sessions and women who are not seeking emergency shelter, but who wish to address the impact of domestic violence on their lives. Child-centered clinical counseling is also available through La Casa’s Intern Program and in collaboration with San Francisco General Hospital’s nationally-reknowned Child Trauma Research Project. In addition, resource advocacy, referrals, emergency food and clothing are available.
The Safe Havens Project, a collaboration with the San Francisco Unified Family Court and Saint Francis Memorial Hospital’s Rally Visitation Program, enables La Casa to address the needs of domestic violence victims as they develop and implement custody arrangements with their batterers. La Casa’s Advocate assists survivors in realizing shared custody and visitation schedules, where they are ordered by the Court, that prioritize the parent and children’s safety while providing support navigating what can be an intimidating and punitive system.
La Casa’s Teen Program provides adolescent-appropriate intervention and prevention services to battered and at-risk youth and their children/siblings. Using La Casa's basic service model, counselors assist each teen client with individual counseling, support groups, court and social service accompaniment, advocacy regarding legal, housing, financial and medical needs, and referrals for job training and placement. Our Teen Advocates are available at our Drop-In Counseling Center and also hold counseling hours at nine (9) San Francisco high schools to facilitate support for adolescents. Interaction focuses on helping teens recognize potentially abusive relationships, better understand what creates a healthy relationship, and gain an understanding of how the "Cycle of Violence" may apply to their lives.
La Casa's on-site Case Management Programs support up to 158 residents of two single women’s transitional/permanent housing facilities in the Tenderloin—the Mary Elizabeth Inn and Verona Hotel. Offering housing stability and emotional support services, the case managers provides advocacy, counseling and referrals to help formerly homeless residents sustain independent housing, build skills and community, and continue to move through the healing process, while building permanently violence free lives.
The Safe Housing Project is working to empower residents of San Francisco’s permanent supportive housing sites to create communities that foster and demand violence free lives. Originating from the San Francisco Family Supportive Housing Network member sites’ articulated need to systematically address domestic violence, the program brings La Casa’s expertise onsite—through widespread outreach, staff and resident education, community-building efforts, site-specific direct service designs and relevant policy review and advocacy—to raise awareness of abuse, its effects and alternatives, provide tailored support, and help residents build a community, from within, that does not tolerate violence.
An integral adjunct to our direct services, La Casa’s Community Education and Outreach Program provides outreach to media, schools, corporations and community groups. Program activities seek to prevent domestic violence among teens and adults, give voice to silenced victims of domestic violence, and motivate social change through community education and public awareness.
In FY 2009-10, La Casa de las Madres’ services were utilized as follows:
• 4,295 callers received crisis counseling, resources and referrals through our statewide, toll-free Adult and Teen Crisis Lines;
• 893 domestic violence victims accepted Domestic Violence Response Team crisis or follow-up assistance;
-Among them, 136 accessed DVRT legal assistance in pursuing a restraining order;
• 219 women and 206 children received emergency shelter and support services;
• 474 women and families received practical and emotional support through the Drop-In Counseling Center;
-Among them, 46 families received specific assistance with custody and visitation;
• 212 adolescents participated in individual and group activities of the Teen Program;
• the MEI Case Management Program provided housing stability, community-building and emotional support services to 177 residents of the Mary Elizabeth Inn and Verona Hotel;
• the Safe Housing Project worked with staff and residents of 75 Bay Area supportive housing sites and provided direct intervention to resident women and families; and
• 430 community education and outreach activities educating 7,907 teens and adults and reaching more than 49,000 community members were undertaken.
We also strive to offer services wherein victims can immediately access needed support, be safe, and build a stable foundation from which to start or continue an independent life free from abuse. So we are successful when we have provided a timely, relevant response; alleviated crisis; and facilitated improved quality of life through an increased sense of safety, prevention of homelessness, and encouragement of thriving. To determine if we are reaching milestones and benchmarks specific to each program, we solicit feedback in periodic surveys and exit interviews about experiences with services, what has worked or is not working.
A sample of results include: 94% of women exited emergency shelter with an increased sense of self-efficacy, and were better able to identify the warning signs of a dangerous relationship. Among adult Drop In Center participants, 92% felt better able to advocate for themselves and/or their children’s needs in the community. Among moms engaging in clinical child-focused trauma interventions at the drop in center 84% reported their children exhibited more positive attachment and/or improved behavior. Finally, among teen educational session participants, 91% agreed that, in a relationship, everyone is responsible for their own behavior; and 2% requested individualized follow up services.