When children come to Optimism Place with their mothers, the Children’s Services Coordinator is here to support all of them. The non-abusive atmosphere at Optimism Place can help children feel safe. Coming to the shelter can be confusing for children and we want to support mothers and children to transition smoothly.
The Children’s Services Coordinator can provide crisis intervention and supportive counselling for children and their mothers. For children, this may focus on their feelings, the family changes they have experienced, and the abuse they have witnessed. For mothers, we provide education on how their child has been impacted by witnessing the abuse, as well as parenting support and skill development.
Mothers may be interested in referrals to community services for children such as the Early Years Centre, Perth District Health Unit, local day cares, day camps, and the public library. Some families may already be involved with other community agencies such as the Child and Youth Mental Health Services, or the Children’s Aid Society and we can act as an advocate for mothers and children.
The Children’s Services Coordinator can help mothers to register their children in school if they have relocated to this area or need to change schools for safety reasons. Schools that we work with are aware, and sensitive to, our safety concerns for the children. The Children’s Services Coordinator or a volunteer can provide childcare while mothers participate in the in-house women’s group, or attend professional appointments (e.g. legal or medical).
Optimism Place has a variety of safe, child-friendly spaces, including a huge basement playroom with a variety of toys, a backyard playhouse, splash-pad and sandbox. Recreational programs for the children give them an opportunity to express themselves creatively, and a chance to just be kids. We can celebrate a child’s birthday while they are living in the shelter - it may not be like the party you have in your own home, but we’ll make it as special as we can. Depending on the family’s wishes, we also recognize and celebrate seasonal holidays. Some children bring with them a favourite toy or comforting item. If they are not able to do so, we have many new toys on hand to help them to fill that gap. We also have infant and children’s clothes, toiletries, and new backpacks for children who were unable to bring these things.
The Children’s Services Coordinator provides individual and group support to children who have been witness to woman abuse, on an outreach basis. This service is open to children who may or may not have lived at the shelter. You are welcome to call and discuss your current situation with the children services coordinator. 519-271-5310 ext. 111.