Because of County budget cuts, a program that helps kids traumatized by domestic violence is in jeopardy of falling by the wayside. The Center for Creativity and Healing is a counseling group that provides counseling for adults and children in a variety of areas including sexual abuse, body image, interpersonal skills and creativity. Professional counselor Maria Curran heads the program, and for the past seven years her office conducted the Healthy Development portion of the HERO (Help, Encouragement and Recognition for Observers of domestic violence) program. This program became possible through a federal grant issued to the Charlotte Women's Commission. The county initially provided funding for Healthy Development, but this will cease June 30, effectively calling an end to the service.Prior to the funding cut, the Center for Creativity and Healing provided play therapy and individual counseling for approximately 30-35 children per month. In addition to this service, the program offered intensive parenting education, sibling and family therapy, reunification therapy and feedback for teachers, or other professionals working with the child or family. The majority of the clients ranged from ages two to five, with most living in single-parent households, and 25 percent lived in foster care.
"The program has helped many children who were witness to domestic violence," says Curran. Many of the pre-school aged children in the program had already been removed from daycare centers for discipline or behavior problems. Curran says that in many of these situations, "significant improvement has taken place in the children's behavior."
The program saw excellent results with its youngest clients. The purpose in intervening so early was to counteract the negative influence of domestic violence in an attempt to prevent the children from becoming aggressive and/or defiant adolescents, and possible domestic violence perpetrators themselves later in life.
Both the Women's Commission and the Center for Creativity and Healing are looking for ways to prolong the program. Because The Women's Commission is a county agency, it cannot solicit funds directly, so they are unable to orchestrate a fundraiser. Groups or individuals who would like to contribute to preserving Healthy Development can contact the office of the Women's Commission by mail at 700 N. Tryon St. Charlotte, NC 28202, or by phone at (704) 336-3210.