By Shelby Smithey….
FavorHouse of Northwest Florida, Inc. is now providing services to children who have experienced domestic violence in their families with its very own Kids Center.
The FavorHouse Kids Center will operate as a safe haven for children exposed to violence and will officially open Dec. 13. Just a few blocks from the FavorHouse counseling center, the Kids Center is a renovated house that is tailored to the needs of children. The center is an IMPACT 100 project and is funded through a $114,000 grant.
“We have over 1500 adult clients with children,” Sue Hand, Executive Director of FavorHouse, said. “This is a chance for the children to learn about non-violence.” Hand said that parental consent is needed to visit the center and that children should be dropped off for one to two hours and then be picked up.
“You have to create an environment of confidentiality with the kids, Hand said. “We felt that they would feel more secure and comfortable in a place of their own.”
The Kids Center includes a computer lab with four desktop computers, reading room and classroom with a smart TV. The center will have two experienced tutors available in the afternoons for children who need extra assistance with homework and support groups for children who need additional counseling.
The center also has a kitchen that will be used to teach children healthy eating habits and nutrition and provide small snacks. A rewards room including shelves of toys and board games is also available to children who may pick out a gift for good behavior. Hand said that children who complete small goals or who are staying on track in the program will get to pick out a gift from the rewards room.
The Kids Center will also be available to teens as well. A prevention program that will address dating violence called “Safe Dates” will be taught to the teens. Pat Johnson, a FavorHouse child advocate since 1995, will be teaching “Primary Prevention,” which is a program designed to teach kids about healthy relationships, respect and the consequences of bullying.
“The state just passed a law this year that will make dating violence part of the curriculum in schools,” Hand said. “Violence is a learned behavior.”
The Kids Center is open to the children in the FavorHouse domestic violence shelter with a parent, as well as other children in the community who are experiencing domestic violence in their families. The services provided by the FavorHouse Kids Center are free and are available to children ages four to eighteen. Call 850-434-1315 for more information.