At Harbor House, we believe that domestic abuse does not define who you and your children are.
Children and teens can experience emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, and verbal mistreatment – all of which result in crisis situations they don’t understand. The Harbor House Youth Program helps young people constructively express their thoughts and feelings, lessen the effects of trauma, strengthen the bond with their protective parent, and end the generational cycle of abuse. Services are provided at both our Appleton and Chilton offices, as well as through our 24-hour helpline at (800) 970-1171.
Our Youth Program is based on the premise that you, as the protective parent, are truly the best advocate for your child. While our Youth Advocates have a great deal of knowledge, experience, and expertise from working with hundreds of young people annually, you must ultimately determine the best course of action for your child. Our role is to ensure that you fully understand the impact of domestic abuse on yourself and your child, so that you can make the best decisions for your family’s future.
We incorporate trauma-informed care into all of our services. New staff, regardless of position, receive extensive training on trauma, the effects of domestic abuse on children, interacting with children and youth, and working with protective parents. We emphasize the need for each child to develop a positive self-image and discuss ways we can help them recognize their unique skills and talents. We also provide ongoing in-service trainings on trauma-informed care and the effects of domestic abuse.
We’re committed to maintaining compassionate and mindful programming that addresses the safety and resiliency of young people who have been exposed to unhealthy relationships. We recognize that each situation is unique and requires unique solutions. We offer our age-appropriate, confidential, and culturally inclusive services – and we will never assume we know more about your child’s situation than you do.
One-on-one crisis counseling offers your child a safe, comfortable, nonjudgmental environment in which to share their experiences. Our Youth Advocates listen to your child’s thoughts and concerns, assuring them that they are not to blame for any abuse. We also work with your child to develop healthy coping skills and improve overall wellbeing.
Safety planning helps your child deal with the fear of having lived with and possibly having to spend time with their abusive parent. Safety planning includes helping your child find their safe space in the home, listing adults they can turn to in a crisis, and developing code words to discretely alert trusted adults when they feel threatened.
During the school year, we offer weekly homework help to children of shelter residents. We also coordinate before- and after-school activities at local schools, the Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley, and YMCA Fox Cities. Our summer book club lets children earn prizes and receive in-shelter recognition when they keep track of how much time they spend reading, and our facility has bookshelves with free books available for youth of all ages to take.
The Youth Program offers a range of services to help protective parents navigate the legal system. If your child has been physically abused by a partner, we can help you obtain a restraining order. Advocates can also accompany you to court proceedings involving custody, placement, and visitation issues. If your child is assigned a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in the family court system, we can help communicate the needs and rights of your child to the GAL.
Our youth support group gives young people the tools to express their thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. Learning these critical thinking skills can help your child feel more in control of their own emotions. The group also focuses on helping children heal and recover through games, play, and interaction with peers.
Our Youth Program organizes a number of fun and engaging activities throughout the year. Activities including craft projects, movie nights, and holiday celebrations help shift your child’s focus away from the trauma they’ve experienced so they can get back to the business of being a kid. During the summer months, we offer an enrichment program that includes field trips, a reading program, and passes to the local YMCA and Boys and Girls Club of the Fox Valley.