Safe Start in the Community: Detroit, Mich.

FB general coverThroughout the month we will feature the 10 Safe Start Promising Approaches grantees and the work they’re doing in their communities to help children exposed to violence and their families.

“I wanted to learn how to raise my children differently.” explains Kristina, a mother of five children ranging in age from 2 to 10. “I come from a family where there was a belief that kids learn by being hit. I didn’t want that pattern to continue from generation to generation. I wanted to teach my kids that hitting is not a solution.”

During the weekly 2-hour sessions of the Alternatives For Girls’ Strengthening Families Program, Kristina learns to teach her kids by talking to them rather than by hitting them. Through case management services and access to other resources and support, she learns patience and to take deep breaths rather than lose her temper when frustrated.

Kristina’s children also participate in the program, each joining an age-appropriate group in which they talk about topics ranging from the danger of strangers to positive communication. Maya, the oldest, says, “I learned to be respectful to my mom, to other adults, and to myself.” Eight-year-old Eloise chimes in, “I learned not to smoke and that if a stranger tells me that my mom says to come with them, not to come.” Olivia, the middle child, shares, “I learned to help mom clean up.”

Kristina feels a sense of community with the other families in the class. She learns that she is not the only person who has been raising children the way she was, and she finds other families with similar backgrounds. They learn together and from one another. “Everybody takes something from everybody else in the group,” Kristina says with a smile.

Most important, family members have seen a change in how they communicate with one another, particularly in how their mother communicates with them. Kristina enthusiastically recommends this program to other families. “It’s never too late to learn,” she smiles.

Alternatives For Girls
903 West Grand Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48208


Uses an inter-generational intervention to reduce violence and address its impact on children and their families. Provides intensive and structured programming in small groups, in both English and Spanish, to reduce the child’s exposure to violence at home, in the community, and in school.

Target Population:

English- and Spanish-speaking children and families

Age Range:



  • Strengthening Families Program*
  • Psychological First Aid
  • Case Management

*Evidence-based or promising practice


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