Monsignor Michael M. Boland

Child care center to aid in stopping domestic abuse

January 25, 2018

Recently, Catholic Charities was pleased to open the Madonna Campus Child Development Center.  The center is co-located within our House of the Good Shepherd domestic-violence shelter, and makes House of the Good Shepherd the first and only domestic-violence shelter in the city of Chicago to have a fully licensed child care facility in-house.   

Opening the child care center has been a major goal of Catholic Charities for quite some time because it plays an important role in our overall strategy for combatting violence, supporting families in need and creating healthy communities. We know that all too often, violence begins in the home. Therefore, any comprehensive strategy for addressing violence in our communities must include steps to address family abuse.  
Catholic Charities has gone to great lengths to create an entire campus of services for victims of domestic violence, and the new child care center is the linchpin to help all of these services work together.

We have learned from our years of work with victims of domestic violence, that helping women break the cycle of violence involves a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach that touches virtually all aspects of a woman’s life. Once women make the courageous decision to leave an abusive situation, it is vital that they are prepared physically, psychologically and financially to live independently from their abusers.  

Help is needed not only with emergency safe shelter, but also with legal matters, health care, financial planning, parenting skills training, individual and family counseling, immigration services, education and job training and job placement. However, it is always a challenge to find high-quality, affordable child care so women can take advantage of these important opportunities.  

Now, with licensed on-site child care, House of the Good Shepherd residents can take the time they need to fully rebuild their lives by attending counseling appointments, budgeting and financial planning workshops, court dates, doctor’s appointments, education and training classes and job interviews — all the while knowing their children are being safely cared for in an environment that they trust.  

The new child care facility also fulfills an important role in Catholic Charities’ intervention strategy with children who have been exposed to domestic violence. Studies show that children growing up in violent homes are more likely to feel socially isolated; more likely to demonstrate aggressive behavior such as bullying and fighting; less likely to feel empathy for others; more likely to show a range of behavioral, social and academic problems; and are at greater risk for substance abuse, juvenile pregnancy and criminal activity.  

Violence is a learned behavior. Therefore, it is critical for the health of our communities that we ensure children from abusive homes receive comprehensive healing services so that we can break the cycle of violence that is often passed on through generations. House of the Good Shepherd has an entire healing and recovery program for children that includes assessments for behavioral, developmental, psychological and educational problems; afterschool tutoring and enrichment classes; trauma-informed therapy; and plenty of engaging educational and recreational opportunities.  

The new on-site child care center provides yet another touchpoint for Catholic Charities’ staff to ensure that each child’s needs are being met, and gives these vulnerable children access to the highest quality child development services available. As at Catholic Charities’ six other child-development centers, our goal is to ensure children are prepared for academic, social and emotional success.

Catholic Charities is honored to offer the comprehensive care that can truly bring hope and transformation to families yearning to live free from violence and abuse. We are very grateful for the donors and supporters who helped us implement our vision for the new child care center that will be a tremendous blessing to women and children for generations to come.