From Struggle to Moments of Joy
One of the questions we’re asked most often is: “Why do families come to Childhaven for help?” Below, we explore the most prevalent forms of adversity that our families face, and the impact of our programs on their lives. By supporting parents and children as they recover from traumatic circumstances, we help them nurture one another and thrive as a family.
WHAT HAPPENS: “Many parents with substance abuse issues have faced significant trauma,” says Hillary, a Childhaven therapist. “Addiction starts as a coping mechanism and becomes a downward spiral. And, of course, it affects their ability to care for their children.”
THE APPROACH: Parents struggling with substance abuse are referred to nearby clinics for treatment; Childhaven therapists also work with them to help process the emotions underlying their addiction. The children attend our day program, where teachers and therapists help them work through their own emotional challenges.
THE IMPACT: “In time,” Hillary says, “you see the parent’s confidence increase through their recovery, and the children act out less. And the whole family can experience moments of real joy together.”
WHAT HAPPENS: “Depression often shows up when parents are coping with other challenges,” says Mary, another therapist at Childhaven. “I worked with one mom who had PTSD from abuse she’d experienced in her own childhood, and it really affected her ability to bond with her kids. Her children had significant attachment issues; they would cry a lot, and didn’t feel safe with adults.”
THE APPROACH: Childhaven’s teachers and therapists started a “nurturing routine” for the child with insecure attachment, and began to build her trust. In time, she became calmer, and would even seek out her teacher’s comfort. Therapists also worked with the parent to help her bond with her kids in ways that weren’t too stressful or triggering.
THE IMPACT: “When she first came to Childhaven,” Mary says, ”this mom didn’t have much confidence in herself as a parent. She once told me, ‘I never had my needs met by my parents—how will I ever be able to meet my kids’ needs?’ But she’s learned so much in the program. When I see her now, she tells me about how she’s in therapy, working through things and really taking care of herself.”
WHAT HAPPENS: “Many times in domestic violence situations, a child no longer sees a parent as a parent,” says Katie, a Childhaven therapist. “So they’ll stop listening to Mom, they’ll act out aggressively, and they won’t respond to limits.”
THE APPROACH: Mom is supported as she processes the trauma she’s experienced and rebuilds her confidence as a parent. Children go through play therapy and learn to relate to their peers and express their emotions in age-appropriate ways.
THE IMPACT: “Without Childhaven, who knows what would’ve happened?” says Duntika, a parent in our program who escaped an abusive relationship. “Like, my son was going to grow up and be just like his dad, the violence was just going to continue. But now my kids are happy again. They’re not afraid all the time…and my son will use his words [instead of becoming aggressive].”
May 7-11 is Teacher Appreciation Week!
Our teachers make a real difference in the lives of children and families every single day. They create nurturing, lasting connections with our kids, and help them work through very difficult emotions. Our teachers are awesome, courageous, and very much appreciated!
Interested in a teaching career at Childhaven? Visit: careers.childhaven.org!
GIVEBIG NOW THROUGH MAY 9!
THREE DECADES OF MONTHLY GIVING
Local teachers Charles and Karen Jones began contributing to Childhaven in 1990. After nearly 30 years, they have never stopped making monthly donations to support our mission. We spoke to Karen via email to learn more about why she and Charles contribute to Childhaven!
How did you first learn of Childhaven?
I am not sure when we first became aware of Childhaven, but I suspect it was from my best friend. She had been an RN for the kids in Seattle’s juvenile detention, and after earning her MSW, she began working with homeless families. She saw firsthand the power of Childhaven’s programs.
What draws you to support Childhaven’s mission?
As teachers, we’re acutely aware of the impact emotional safety and stability have on a child’s ability to learn. When we first began giving, we were only able to contribute sporadically. When our son started preschool, however, and we no longer needed to pay for day care, I realized I could continue writing that monthly check, but send it to Childhaven instead.
To some extent, I have always thought of it as simply continuing to pay for “day care”—trying in some way to provide an opportunity for another child to feel as beloved as our boys were, and are. So, just as investment managers recommend putting money each month into savings, we put money each month into Childhaven.
Of all of our investments, the “return” on our investment in Childhaven is most satisfying.
What advice would you give to a community member looking to support a cause like Childhaven’s?
As a teacher married to a teacher, I knew we were never going to have the kind of money to be able to give to any institution in an amount that would feel “significant.” But one philanthropist’s advice was simple: It doesn’t matter how much you have to give. Choose something you believe in, and focus your giving. Even if it is a small amount, you will make a significant impact by directing all your energy to one thing.
Set up a monthly donation to Childhaven at childhaven.org/donate
To respect the privacy of the children and families we serve, we may change their names in articles and/or use stock photos.