Roots & Wings
The Services we provide for children
By: Kaleigh Bronson
Back in 1994, a group of loving, passionate Cedar City community members created Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center, an emergency shelter for women and children fleeing abuse. The organization has since grown into a comprehensive social services agency that provides a wide variety of services including individual advocacy, financial assistance, court and medical accompaniment, legal advocacy, emotional support, resource referrals, housing advocacy, support groups for survivors, as well as community awareness, prevention, development and volunteer programs.
Last year, Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center became Canyon Creek Services to reflect the nature of our work and a more comprehensive description of our scope and services. A statement from our Executive Director, Dr. Brant Wadsworth, regarding the need for a name change, summed it up perfectly: "the time has come for our name to acknowledge what has been true about the organization for some time: that we serve all survivors affected by these types of violence regardless of gender, age, and whether or not they are in crisis.”
One critical element the name change helps reflect is that we don't just serve adults—we very passionately serve, advocate, support, and help the most vulnerable among us: children. The children we serve have personally experienced domestic and/or sexual violence and abuse as either direct or indirect victims. As the quote from Hodding Carter says, the two most important things we can give children are roots (which includes safety, support, and security), and wings (education, advocacy and championing). As part of the CCS Victim Services Department, I am proud to work as a specialized Child & Youth Victim Advocate, providing both of those critical elements to the children I have the distinct honor of working with.
My responsibilities as the Child and Youth Victim Advocate at Canyon Creek Services include safety planning, individual advocacy, implementing and overseeing programming, and resource referral services for parenting, child care, and more. But more than that, I am fully dedicated to every single child that comes through our doors, and with all my heart, work to serve as their personal champion, kind support, protector, and friend. In their young and short lives, these children have experienced far too much trauma, violence, and heartbreak. I feel it's my most important responsibility that in my role as their Advocate I do all within my power to help them feel safe, secure and individually valued and cared for.
It's sometimes hard, knowing what I know and seeing what I do every day in my work, to still encounter apathy or the downplaying of the widespread problem of violence in our community. To help best illustrate reality (granted these are only the cases we know about, as there are many that don't seek help): from July 1st 2018 to June 30th 2019, Canyon Creek Services has served 175 child clients, 81 of which utilized shelter services. On average, we have 65-75 child clients actively receiving services at any time. This last fiscal year, we had 531 attendees at various child and youth groups both inside and outside of our emergency shelter.
With so many children who have experienced trauma coming into our shelter, we ensure that within less than four days of their arrival at the shelter, every child and the child's mother does a complete intake with me, and together we create an age-appropriate safety plan. I feel this safety plan is part of the "roots" we must provide as an organization to the children we serve. Then, they continue to work with a Child and Youth Advocate to help process their experiences, move forward on their safety plan (which can include practicing dialing 911 or knowing safe people they can go to if they need help), support their education and schooling if they are attending school, and work on their own personal goals. I also work closely with their parents to provide meaningful services specific to their children's particular needs, whether that be social skills or healthy boundaries.
One important element of childhood that is an essential part of the important "wings" to give children, is play. Fred Rogers, the brilliant and powerful champion of children, says "for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." Every day, Monday through Friday, and on scheduled weekends, Canyon Creek Services facilitates groups among the children we serve to help develop coping skills, strengthen friendships, and also allow for some of the beautiful aspects of childhood: being able to be carefree and have fun. At these groups, the children are able to interact one on one with me as well as other staff and volunteers, and other children receiving services. Together we read, work on homework, make crafts, watch movies and play games.
As a Child and Youth Victim Advocate, I have seen more than my share of heartache and pain. I want everyone to know that while the problem of domestic violence and sexual assault is very real, I also know that the future is so bright! To quote Fred Rogers once again (and this is one of my favorites): "when I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." Here at Canyon Creek Services, we are the helpers. We work tirelessly together in education, support, prevention, advocacy, and mentoring, providing those essential "roots" and "wings" that children need to develop and grow.
The ultimate goal of our services is to one day bring an end to violence, and we are headed in the right direction! Coming soon, our Victim Services Department will be expanding the Child & Youth services we provide by hiring another Victim Advocate, implementing a children's mindfulness program and parenting programs, having a trauma therapist available to work with our clients, and expand our resource referral services. These essential services will happen with your ongoing support of Canyon Creek Services. I ask you to talk to everyone you know about Canyon Creek, support the fundraisers we have throughout the year, consider volunteering, and invite us to present at the organizations and groups that you are involved with. Most importantly: start by believing those who come forward to tell you of what they have experienced, help refer them to the services we provide and make every effort to support and champion them on their journey of healing. We all can be helpers in this most important of work of creating “communities free of domestic violence and sexual assault.”