Children Exposed to Domestic Violence to be Supported with Trauma-Informed Curriculum

submitted by Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters

The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) marked National Child Day
(November 20th) with the launch the ACWS Learning Management System and its first online training
program, The Healing Brain: Supporting Children from Trauma to Resilience.

The Healing Brain is a module-based, online course that participants can work through at their own pace.
The training will give participants a better understanding of early childhood brain development, the impacts
of trauma on children, and how to nurture resilience in children who have been exposed to domestic
violence. Each module is directly linked to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action,
to inform the ways service providers work with children through a lens of reconciliation.

“Working with children who have been exposed to domestic violence is one of the major prevention tactics
that can be used to interrupt the cycle of violence from continuing into future generations,” said Mel
Willerth, ACWS Program Development & Training Coordinator. “This curriculum was developed because
children represent a large percentage of the residents who are served at shelters across Alberta, but it also
has wide application beyond shelters—it’s very useful material for anyone working with children in the
broader community.”

Over two-thirds of people admitted to domestic violence shelters in Alberta are children who are
accompanying mothers fleeing violence and abuse—in the 2021/22 fiscal year, 3,373 children were sheltered
in ACWS member emergency and second-stage shelters in the province.

Shelters offer a continuum of supports that includes on-site childcare and playrooms in many shelters.
“Some shelters are also able to provide access to specialists—such as medical practitioners or clinical social
workers—although this largely depends on whether the shelter is able to fundraise the resources needed to
sustain these extra costs,” said ACWS Executive Director Jan Reimer. “We’re very proud to roll out this
training opportunity to our members and also make it available to members of the public who work with

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