Childhaven supports children in crisis in San Juan County, offering a variety of services to help children get the aid they need. On Friday, May 20, Childhaven opened a new foster care center, which will offer support and resources for children and families who are a part of the foster system. By Hannah Robertson. This story is sponsored by Traegers Bar and CMIT Solutions
On a particularly windy spring afternoon, Childhaven opened its doors to its newest acquisition, a building dedicated solely to the Childhaven foster care services. An organization that has been serving in San Juan County for 50 years, Childhaven assists children in crisis, including transfers to, inside of, and from the foster care system. The new center, located across the street from Childhaven headquarters, will make all of that work easier. You're watching the Local News Network, brought to you by Traegers and CMIT Solutions. I'm Hannah Robertson.
We started as a children's shelter on East Main Street. The building was previously an old oil-filled building that the community decided to remodel. And the organization began from that program and has now expanded into six programs. So it was only a children's emergency shelter for about 30 years. And then in the mid nineties, some programs, like our foster care, children's advocacy center, Casa programs, those were all added probably about '95, '96, and have continued to operate, to have more of a comprehensive approach to child welfare issues and child abuse and neglect issues.
The emergency shelter is still in use. And for a while, Childhaven foster care services worked out of the emergency shelter. But Childhaven knew that a different space was needed. The emergency shelter is just that, a place for children who need a safe space during a crisis or emergency. Foster care, on the other hand, is often a longer term situation for the child and the families affected.
We primarily provide something called treatment foster care, but really what that is is working with children who have experienced extreme trauma, and providing not only the child, but also that foster family with more tools to help the child or a sibling group better heal and process what they've gone through. And if the Childhaven program was not in San Juan County, that would mean that a lot of kids who are maybe having struggles in foster homes would have to be split up from their siblings and actually go to other places in the state. And so we're really needing foster families right now to help fill that gap.
The foster care center will allow current and prospective foster parents to train in a new conference room. There's a warehouse that provides extra storage, and a room full of donated toys, clothing, strollers, and other necessities, so that foster parents can pick up what they need for the child they have at their homes. The center also allows Childhaven to expand its current resource offerings. Children who are a part of the foster care system often have experienced or are experiencing trauma at home. And Childhaven has trained therapists, court advocates, and other individuals who can use the new center as a meeting point in a safe space for the children.
The healing process is also so important. So the therapy piece is key, not only for the children in our foster care program, but that's also available to others in the community. We especially have seen during the last couple of years the increase of mental health issues for children and teens. And that program has been a resource for that. And we provide family therapy too. And we recognize with a lot of these issues, it does deal with the family as a whole.
The open house honored a couple of members of the foster community who died during COVID, and gave community members a chance to walk through the newly refurbished space, to watch the ribbon cutting at the entrance, surrounded by metallic shining pinwheels.
First of all, we have a display outside right now of 800 pinwheels. So each of those pinwheels represents a child or a family that Childhaven served in a year. So we serve about 800 children and families every year. And just to get a visual on that, and for people who are coming today to see, "Oh, that's a life I touched", because all of these cases are confidential, they will likely never see the child, but they can understand by looking at that, "Oh, that's the amount of children we've helped".
To learn more about Childhaven and its projects, to donate, or to sign up to volunteer, visit childhavennm.org. Thanks for watching this edition of the Local News Network. I'm Hannah Robertson.
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