Our clients in our programs at the Exchange Club Parenting Skills Center are families that meet all or any of the following criteria:
- Any family at imminent risk of abuse or neglect or in crisis.
- Have been reported to DCF for child abuse or neglect, or have been identified as a family at risk of child abuse or neglect,
- Have a history of substance abuse, exacerbating the abuse or neglect of minor children.
- Have teenage parents, or parents in need of parenting education and child abuse prevention help,
- Have preschool-aged children,
- Experience domestic violence issues that threaten a child's safety,
- Have children that are being returned to the home after out-of-home placement,
- Have had sexual abuse identified as an issue,
- Have child abuse issues related to cultural isolation, immigrant status or language barriers,
- Have child abuse or neglect issues related to physical illness, mental illness or retardation,
- Live in the communities of Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk and Bridgeport and neighboring areas?
Child abuse and neglect has no economic, geographic or ethnic boundaries. Without intervention and treatment, the scars of child abuse and neglect last a lifetime. It does not discriminate between affluent and low-income communities. It often does not appear as scrapes or bruises, but takes many other forms:
- Emotional abuse – Failure to provide a loving environment in which children can thrive, learn and develop. This type of abuse manifests itself in threatening, rejection, scapegoating, name-calling or simply ignoring the child.
- Neglect – Lack of medical care, proper nourishment, safe housing, proper clothing, transportation to school or school activities. These children are also frequently unsupervised or abandoned entirely.
- Physical Abuse – A child is considered physically abused when he or she: 1) requires medical attention because of an injury inflicted by a caregiver; 2) exhibits severe bruising, meaning old and new bruises in combination, or bruises on several areas of the face; 3) is struck with a closed fist or an instrument, kicked, intentionally burned, shaken or thrown.
- Sexual Abuse – This includes any form of sexual activity imposed upon a child by a person in a position of power, authority and/or influence over the child. The behavior may be coercive or non-coercive, and may range from voyeurism and exposure to fondling and intercourse. Some of these children have, or have been, exposed to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Each family in our programs are provided with four to six months of intensive, in-home services, in which Parent Aides and Parent Enrichment workers model and teach appropriate behavior, assist with stress and anger management, make referrals to substance abuse treatment programs and develop a positive, nurturing relationship between parent and child.
Juan is currently a senior in High School. His grades are very good and he is the leader of a club in school for Spanish speaking new-comers!
He helps other students get involved in their education and other activities in school. Juan also works part time to help his family financially as they live well below the poverty level. He is a proud young man today and wants people to know that he is a very good role model for his younger brother and he takes that role very seriously.
This was not the case when Juan and his family were first referred to the Center. The family was suffering from abuse, severe physical violence towards the children and the neglect that is exacerbated by impoverished living conditions. The family had recently relocated from Colombia and the children bore the physical marks of their abuse. Soon after relocating this was reported and the father was arrested and put in jail. DCF referred this case to our Center as they were at high risk of further neglect. When our Hispanic Crisis Parent Aide worker Lilia was assigned this case, the mother was extremely depressed and overwhelmed and the children were traumatized. The family itself was isolated as they knew no one in America. Lilia worked very hard with the family initially to gain their trust and to case manage the family into much needed medical, therapeutic, and educational institutions in order to meet their needs. She also helped the family become acclimated within the community and the school system so that the children had the educational programs they needed and Mom knew how to access food and clothing. Juan wanted to learn everything he could about this new country and new school system, so Lilia got him into ESL programs where he learned English very quickly. Juan began to show leadership skills and became involved with sports at his school.
Lilia connected the family with different agencies to help with all of their problems. The cycle of violence in this family has been replaced with positive parenting techniques, nurturing and care, their basic needs for clothing, food and housing have been met and their future looks bright.
When Lady walked into the Center she closed the door behind her, stood in the reception area and cried.
She was a 13 year old girl, pregnant and had just moved to this country with her terminally ill Mother. Lady needed help, she did not have any insurance yet knew her mother's condition was dire and needed medicine that was very expensive. The family was poor and came over without any resources. The case was referred to our Hispanic Crisis Parent Aide Program and Lilia opened it and began her work the same day. Lilia case managed the Mother into a free program at the hospital to get her medicine. She also case managed Lady into medical treatment and a local teen parent program that would help her get into school. Lilia then focused on referring the family into therapeutic treatment for the extreme sadness they were feeling in dealing with the Mothers illness. Together with Lilia they were able to find appropriate housing with easy access to both school and the hospital. Lady did very well in high school and gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Lilia taught her general parenting skills and positive discipline technique for the future. Lilia stayed with Lady through the last days of her Mother's life, and helped her with the funeral arrangements. Lady gained great confidence from Lilia's teachings, she became a leader in the teen parenting program! Her grades were high in school, and her ability to network and get what she needed from the community at large was inspirational. Her home was stylish, neat and clean. When we closed this case we were very proud of her. Lady has stayed in touch with the Center and wants everyone to know that she is beginning college for herself and is the head of the PTA at her son’s school!
I am Emily, I am four years old. When Rebecca from the Exchange Club Center first came to my house, I was scared and I hid behind the chair.
I used to always be scared. I was hit every day with a lamp cord, I am not bad Rebecca told me, but he(my father?) said he wished I was never born. I want to thank you for bringing me and my family groceries and for our Christmas presents and the party, my mommy said she thanked God. My big sister said thank you for protecting us, and making us talk to each other, and play games. I say thank you, I am safe now and he is gone, and my mom sister and I can smile again.
My name is David I am 11 years old, when I started working with Marcia from the Exchange Club Center I was very overweight I was bullied a lot and I did not like myself, I did not want to live.
Marcia taught me how to like who I am and helped me and my family to love each other and stop picking on each other. In school she helped me by working with the social worker and getting involved with some kids that like me and I like them too, we work on bulletin boards together all through the school. I changed my eating habits and my mother learned how to cook healthy meals I have lost many pounds! I have improved my self esteem and I am more outgoing. No one picks on me now. I am happy! Thank you Exchange Club.
My name is Sammy I am six years old. I live with both of my parents. I have a younger brother he does not go to school yet.
My parents argue all the time in front of us. My mom cries a lot. My dad yells at me and hits me and that makes me very sad. When Olympia comes to my house she talks to my mommy and daddy for a long time. She has us do things together and we have family meetings where we learn how to talk to each other and there is no more hitting ever allowed! My mommy does not cry anymore and my daddy is much nicer to us. I hope we can always be with the Exchange Club Center. They are my family too. Thank you!