By Y. WrightNovember 17, 2008
Seldom is there an opportunity to undo damage once it has been done. That's why the Child Crisis Center of El Paso offers parents a safe place to bring their children before tragedy strikes.
The center, which was established in 1973, adopted a mission to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and neglect in El Paso and surrounding areas. It is a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization that provides services such as case management for families needing shelter, family support and parent education classes, teen peer-to-peer presentations aimed at reducing unwanted pregnancy, visitation and exchange services for divorced, separated or noncohabitating parents, and one-on-one parenting skills.
In an effort to be a complete resource for the community, the center developed the Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment. The TRIAD program works in conjunction with Fort Bliss to assist families with a current or previously deployed parent who often experiences deployment related crises, such as financial hardship, the pressure of single parenting, and other stress-induced situations.
"We try to help prevent it before anything happens," said Christin Johnson, case manager and outreach coordinator for the TRIAD, "so that Child Protective Services doesn't have to get involved."
TRIAD provides emergency shelter and support services to help these families cope. It is a preventative measure for parents who might be overwhelmed and need to take a breather, said Johnson. The center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as a safe place for children before a tragedy occurs or during a family emergency.
"Probably half of our case load here is primarily stress relief from majority single-parent families," said Dave Nabours, the shelter supervisor and a licensed child care administrator.
Barbara Hall, director of center operations, said for people outside of a social service setting the program may sound scary or judgmental, but it's because they recognize prevention as parents who are aware of their limitations.
"We do take children who have been abused or neglected, but then we talk about the prevention," said Hall. "We want parents to understand that we stand ready to help them when they're at ... their weakest points."
The center has the capability to house up to 28 children from infants to 13-year-olds. Thanks to grants and the donations from a few local companies, they recently installed a library and future computer area. They are currently working on a family room and dining area to give the children more of a feeling of home.
For more information on about the program or how to volunteer, call 562-7955 or visit www.childcrisiselp.org.