By Joe Salas
By May 1st, the Children’s Safety Project at Greenwich House will have left its home of 30 years, behind an arched window on a classic Greenwich Village street, for a larger space on the Lower East Side. However, partnerships will continue to make it a distinctly Greenwich Village program.
The Children’s Safety Project at Greenwich House provides individualized therapy to help children who are the victims of abuse and domestic violence heal from trauma. Together with support services for children’s non-offending family members—themselves all too often subjected to the same abuses—the Children’s Safety Project helps teach youngsters and adults alike the life skills required to prevent victimization due to domestic violence and abuse in the future.
Founded in 1987, the Children’s Safety Project was catalyzed by the shocking murder, abuse, and neglect of a child in Greenwich Village, Lisa Steinberg. Since then, the program has expanded; it is one of the few that treats children as young as two, and serves hundreds of children and families in need across the city annually.
The new location on East Canal Street is not only larger—allowing more families to be treated—but as Greenwich House Executive Director Roy Leavitt said, “as the program treats more and more children from outside the neighborhood, the new location is easier to access, with seven subway lines nearby, including an accessible station.”
Though the Children’s Safety Project’s heart is moving east, it could be argued that its soul is staying west as the program pursues partnerships with two Greenwich Village institutions.
A partnership with Greenwich House Music School will provide music and art therapy. According to Cecilia Land, LMSW, art therapy is a useful intervention for children who have experienced sexual abuse, and has been shown to help increase victims’ self-esteem and self-confidence.
In music therapy, clients can express their thoughts and feelings outwardly through music (song writing, song discussion, improvisation, art, music, etc.). This enables them to release emotions like grief and anger so they can free themselves of their past and move on.
Meanwhile, the Children’s Safety Project is preparing to host NYU’s Dr. Anthony Salerno for a discussion on “building resiliency” through trauma-informed care for children. Dr. Salerno is the Practice and Policy Scholar at NYU’s McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and has been at the national forefront of trauma-informed care. He will present at the Second Annual Children’s Safety Project’s Luncheon on May 22nd, where he will discuss new approaches, challenges, and successes that come from the integration of behavioral and physical health services, and the role that individuals can play in helping our youngest and most vulnerable New Yorkers.
At the luncheon, Greenwich House hopes to raise awareness about trauma and continue to work to break the cycle of abuse.
More information on the Children’s Safety Project Luncheon can be found at greenwichhouse.org/luncheon.