In 2002, Childhood was just starting to fund projects in the US. Internationally, Childhood was present in 10 countries. Within the next 18 months, seven projects were granted funding as part of the Childhood USA portfolio of projects. Here are three examples of how Childhood works with projects.
Harlem, New York
Northside Center for Child Development has received support from Childhood for almost a decade. Located in Harlem, and serving children in a poor community, Northside saw that despite the ‘extra’ efforts that all children in their elementary and middle-school classes received, there was one group of children that was still not able to take advantage of the additional attention – because they had been sexually abused and traumatized. Northside came to Childhood with a grant proposal to help this group of children, and created The Creative Arts Therapy program (CAT) that builds on a model that helps both the injured child and the non-offending parent. The program offers counseling, group therapy, but most importantly, healing of the trauma through art and artistic self-expression.
Kristi House, the Miami-Dade county designated Child Advocacy Center (CAC), is another organization that was referred to Childhood. In 2007, Kristi House presented an idea for a program that no funder, in Florida or elsewhere, was taking seriously, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes. Kristi House had an ambitious plan: creating a network of community service providers, educate law enforcement of the problem, rescue children, evaluate and assist them, and finally help the children heal. A tall order that Kristi House ever since has successfully developed in to a program called G.O.L.D., Girls Owning and Living their Dreams. Earlier this year, the Safe Harbor legislation, treating children as victims instead of perpetrators of sexual crimes, was signed into law, and in early 2013, an emergency shelter for rescued girls will open. See recent article from project visit here.
In 2005, The Bridge for Youth applied for funding, in collaboration with the Carlson Family Foundation, to start a program directed at helping Hmong girls who were trafficked within their own, small community.
In the course of the program, The Bridge realized that the issue of sexual exploitation, which is the preferred term together with commercial sexual exploitation (aka prostitution, a term not valid when describing children), was something that every youth who walked in their door was exposed to. Since then, The Bridge has incorporated a holistic view on the trauma of sexual exploitation embracing all children that they serve. Staff first broach the issue at intake, and continues carefully through counseling as they work through each and every child’s particular situation. It is a reality in any city in the US, within 24-36 hours a child who has been kicked out of or run away from home will be approached for sex in exchange for food or a bed to sleep in. The window of opportunity to help a child is limited, but The Bridge’s approach has shown that it can be successful.
These three examples of entrepreneurial funding represent core projects that were started as a result of community need, observant and active organizations, and attentive staff. They are hallmarks for how Childhood works, on a small-scale basis, investing in real efforts, and then developed into viable, successful and sustainable programs serving children in need.
We will share more of these ‘start-up’ stories in the months to come.