The Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast has identified increased needs for reducing the effects of domestic abuse due to accelerated domestic abuse caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and "stay-at-home" orders. We have decided to support Crossroads Safehouse and their Youth Service Program.
Crossroads Safehouse Mission Statement: Crossroads Safehouse shelters, supports, advocates for, and empowers all people so we can live free of domestic violence and interpersonal abuse.
The need - In 2019, the Crossroads Safehouse's (Crossroads) emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence served 353 people, 40% of whom were children. The average length of stay in the shelter was 35 days and the maximum was 8 weeks. Those numbers, however, are just a fraction of the number of people served annually through outreach, educational programming, advocacy, and crisis intervention. Crossroads' trained advocates provide comfort, support and assistance to clients. Crossroads connects clients to services that will help them on their paths to success after fleeing abusive situations.
This year, the demand for these types of services in Larimer County has become even more pronounced. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Crossroads has seen nearly a 40% increase in calls to the crisis hotline and has exceeded the number of lethality cases usually seen in a 12-month period. These are cases brought to Crossroads by law enforcement where it was determined that the abuse could escalate to homicide. Usually, Crossroads receives five or six of these cases a year but have now received eighteen in just eight weeks. As this pandemic continues, the need for Crossroads' services continues to rise and they are allowing people to stay in shelter as long as they need during the "Stay at Home" order.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% are direct witnesses. Children who witness domestic violence are 15x more likely to be victims of child abuse than their peers from non-violent homes. The trauma associated with these experiences is linked to a number of problems, including learning difficulties, social problems, and developmental delays. Traumatic childhoods are also correlated with a number of long-term negative outcomes, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, substance abuse, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and more.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation reports that more than 18,000 people are victims of domestic violence each year. In Larimer County, 1 in 10 criminal cases are related to domestic violence. Reducing the instance of domestic violence and healing the trauma experienced by children who are secondary victims is critical for ensuring the future health of our community. According to the CDC, "safe, stable, nurturing environments are essential to preventing childhood maltreatment and to assuring that all children can live up to their full potential."
Programs to meet the need. Crossroads' Youth Services Program provides crisis intervention, safety, and personal advocacy for children who are secondary victims of domestic violence. Trained Youth and Family Advocates work with parents and families to provide parenting support, establish goals, and identify resources for accomplishing those goals. This "2Gen" approach has been adopted by the Colorado Department of Human Services as a best practice for victim care. Rather than separately addressing the needs of children and parents, Crossroads uses the 2Gen model to keep the needs of each family member in mind so they can move forward successfully as a family unit. This family-centered, holistic approach lessens the effects of violence and trauma as children move into adulthood and plants seeds for a healthy future. Youth-specific activities include support and play groups; age-appropriate domestic violence prevention education; music, art, and animal therapy; 1-on-1 youth victim advocacy; and access to licensed therapeutic counselors.
Program these funds will support: Youth Services Program - Many of the children participating in the Youth Services Program live in the emergency shelter with their parents. Families may stay in the shelter for up to eight weeks, and meet with their advocates regularly throughout their stay. Youth victim services are also available on a non-residential basis for the children of clients participating in Crossroads' Outreach Program. The length of participation for these clients varies widely, but typically lasts between 2-6 months.
Youth-specific support groups are held 2x/week, and play groups are facilitated 3x/week. Music, art, and/or animal therapy takes place 2x/month. Advocacy appointments and groups typically last between 30 minutes and one hour. During these sessions, children might play, talk with an advocate about their feelings, ask questions, or discuss the problems they are facing at home or at school. During groups, advocates facilitate the "Hands Are Not for Hitting" prevention curriculum, which teaches children about healthy coping mechanism, ways to express their emotions, and positive relationship behaviors in an age-appropriate way. Crossroads also facilitates access to licensed therapists, tutors, family caseworkers, and other resources as needed.
How people qualify for assistance. The only qualification for access to Crossroads' youth programing is the children must be minors of a parent who has qualified as a victim of domestic violence receiving resources as a shelter or outreach client.
Vetting process: Due to the nature of its services, Crossroads does not actively recruit clients to participate in its direct-service programs. Instead, the agency makes potential clients aware of the services available through collateral distribution, social media, and word of mouth. Crossroads shares formal and informal referral relationships with more than 300 community agencies. Awareness is also created by staff participation in expert panels and community education presentations. Once a parent begins to utilize Crossroads' services, they are assigned a Youth and Family advocate who informs them of the agency programs available for their children.
Time/dollar amount per person/family. Every individual and their children's needs are different. Crossroads does not charge for any of our services. Crossroads provides emergency food, clothing, and shelter, as well as supportive services, which can include therapy for victims and their children.
How quickly a person's/family's needs are met: Immediately by providing emergency food, clothing, and shelter upon intake. Then supportive services follow.
Funds go where needed most: Crossroads tracks and reports on specific grant funding per the request of the granting agency. Crossroads tracks expenses by program and will be able to share with the Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast and /or Rotary District 5440 where funds will be directed within our Youth Services Program.
Measures of success: Long-term data is difficult for Crossroads to quantify because of the short-term nature of their services, as well as privacy regulations and safety concerns that prevent Crossroads from following up with clients after they receive services. For this reason, Crossroads measures performance using short-term outcomes that are likely to indicate future success for clients, in addition to reflecting the agency's purpose. Youth-specific results are closely tied to parent success, so Crossroads' primary measurement tool is a two-question voluntary client survey developed in partnership with the Colorado Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Program which asks clients to indicate whether they a) know more ways to plan for their safety, and b) know more about available community resources as a result of their experience at Crossroads. Crossroads also tracks youth results based on the percentage of children receiving emotional health lessons during their participation in the program. Each of these indicators reflects Crossroads' progress in helping clients to create safe, stable, nurturing environments that plant seeds for future success and ensuring clients are participating in the program in ways that provide maximum benefit.
Survey data over the last three years has indicated positive results. An average of 92% of responding clients reported knowing more ways to plan for their safety, and 93% indicated they knew more about community resources. Results have reflected an upward trend each year during this period, culminating in 98% of responding clients answering "yes" to both questions on the survey in 2019. The percentage of youth clients receiving emotional health lessons has not been tracked previously; however, as program managers strive to continually improve and maintain their commitment to best practices, the need for a more detailed picture of program performance related to youth-specific outcomes was identified and data collection for this outcome was initiated in 2019-20.
Involvement by Rotarians:
1. A staff member from Crossroads Safehouse will present a program to our club describing how the funds helped reduce the effects of domestic abuse in Larimer County during the Covid-19 pandemic.
2. The Breakfast club will prepare an article for the District newsletter and/or the Coloradoan newspaper describing how this project helped reduce the effects of domestic abuse in Larimer County.