Throughout 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.
At age 13, Jessica has experienced community violence most of her life. With Sandra, her mother, she lived at her grandmother’s in a very dangerous neighborhood of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a border town adjacent to El Paso, Texas. One morning, Jessica awoke to gunshots and found out her neighbor had been killed. Soon after, Jessica’s brother was kidnapped and released only after Sandra paid a ransom.
This extreme exposure to trauma and violence prompts Sandra to move to El Paso, Texas, where she enrolls Jessica in school. Although Sandra feels safer, Jessica exhibits anxiety, irritability, fear, loneliness, and loss of trust. Because of the dramatic change of behavior, Sandra looks for help for Jessica. St. Peter and Paul Catholic Church refers Sandra to Aliviane, Inc., Behavioral Health Clinic where a case manager from the Safe Start program assesses Sandra and Jessica and refers them for services under the Safe Start program.
Safe Start case managers conduct weekly groups using the “Dando Fuerza a la Familia” curriculum. The curriculum covers communication styles of Mexican and Mexican-American families living in the border regions of the United States and focuses on the types of violence families experience within the family system and in the community, as well as the conflict between drug cartels in Mexican border states. Sandra participates in the parent training program while Jessica attends the children’s social skills training program. After an hour each week in their separate programs, Sandra and Jessica come together for the family training session and practice the new skills they learned.
Sandra and Jessica are comfortable in the program because the case managers use Mexican colloquial Spanish and they seem to understand Sandra and Jessica’s background and culture. After the 14 weeks of group sessions, the Safe Start program continues to provide case management services to the family for 1 year from the time of enrollment. Jessica now smiles, participates more in school, has friends, and feels a sense of belonging.
Behavioral Health Clinic
7722 North Loop, Suite 5
El Paso, TX 79915
Adapts interventions by providing special sensitivity to the strengths and stresses facing Mexican American families. Helps families decrease behavior problems in their high-risk children by strengthening family functioning and relationships, and building better communication. Works with children to improve protective factors and with parents to improve their child-rearing and relationship skills. Allows families to practice skills and strengthen relationships.
Children and their parents with demonstrated exposure to trauma
- Strengthening Families Program with a cultural adaptation called “Dando Fuerza a la Familia”*
- Case Management
*Evidence-based or promising practice