In 1985, St. Martha’s Hall established a Children’s Program to meet the needs of children who come to shelter with their mothers. By providing intervention at an early age, we hope to decrease the transmission of violence from generation to generation.

Children who have witnessed violence against their mother may have special needs as a result of this trauma.

They may exhibit emotional, cognitive, and/or developmental delays.

In response to these and other needs, St. Martha’s Hall provides a program especially designed for children of battered women.

Services are provided on three levels: assessment, intervention, and prevention.

St. Martha’s Hall’s Children’s Program has five objectives:

  • To reverse misconceptions that the child might have, including the beliefs that she/he is the cause of the violence, that she/he should have been able to improve or change the situation, and that violence happens only in her/his family.
  • To reduce incidents of aggressive behavior in both the parent and the child.
  • To present the belief that violence against women is neither normal or acceptable and to challenge gender stereotypes associated with violence.
  • To foster self-esteem and self-awareness.
  • To provide education and advocacy around issues of development, education, children’s health and government agencies.

Our objectives are supported by the following methods:

  • Availability of individual, family and group counseling
  • Assessing the needs of each child through a comprehensive interview and observation
  • Establishing a family goal plan with an advocate
  • Providing appropriate information and referral
  • Banning the use and the threat of physical punishment
  • Non-acceptance of war toys and other violent play
  • Identifying and reporting suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect
  • Providing a physically and emotionally safe environment structured for a child’s needs
  • Offering all residents on-site parenting groups