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About Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region

Our Mandate

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region operates two emergency shelters for abused women and their children: Anselma House in Kitchener and Haven House in Cambridge (for a total of 90 beds) plus a regional Outreach program. We are the only agency of its kind in Waterloo Region.

Guiding Principles

  • Work collaboratively to end Violence Against Women
  • Demonstrate fiscal responsibility and sustainability
  • Provide excellence in service delivery
  • Retain an exceptional team of staff, management and volunteers
  • Enhance and maintain a positive community profile.

In order to provide excellence in service delivery, we pride ourselves on unique programming; some of which is outlined below.

Through Community Capacity Building funds from the Ministry of Children and Youth (MCYS) a unique collaboration between Women’s Crisis Services and Family and Children’s Services (FCS) evolved in 2006 and remains in place today. A Clinical Support Worker position was created at WCSWR; whose duties are twofold; 1) work in concert with child protection workers through the provision of clinical intervention to clients who have been reported to FCS for domestic violence related concerns and 2) provide clinical intervention to WCSWR shelter residents until long-term therapy becomes available.

Since April 2012, two FCS workers have had offices in-house at Anselma House and Haven House. The benefits of this arrangement are countless – such as our ability to dispel the myths about FCS along with having their services readily accessible to our women and children. Many of our clients continue to have FCS involvement. This initiative, which is certainly forward thinking for our sectors and our Region, has continued to flourish over the years.

In 2011 Anselma House unveiled its music therapy program to residents of all ages. Music therapy allows clients to interact, self-express and experience a therapeutic process in a way that words alone cannot. Music therapy is strength-based, acknowledging and working towards holistic wellness. Women and children learn how to process tension, stress, and/or traumatic events and situations.

The Safe Steps Program otherwise known as “Child Witness” is a group program organized through the agency.  Community group sessions continue to run three times per year, and offer concurrent groups for mothers and their children. The program offers meals, transportation and childcare to participants.

Our Education Program delivers various educational curriculums and presentations/trainings about our organization and violence against women throughout Waterloo Region.

At both Anselma House and Haven House, the “Healthy Smiles Ontario” initiative provides dental screeners who meet with children aged 17 and under. Should further treatment be assessed as necessary, the screeners make referrals to local dentists for no-cost check-ups, fillings, x-rays and so forth.

In addition to providing nutritious, cost effective meals to residents, our Food and Nutrition Coordinators provide an educational component. This element is most advantageous in that residents learn how to purchase and prepare nutritious meals, while adhering to a fixed budget. They also learn how to feed themselves and their children (including preparation of healthy lunches) according to Canada’s Food Guide. In lieu of cooking themselves, residents are afforded more time to engage in additional programming and focus on moving beyond violence. The longstanding benefits are that once women leave the shelter they are equipped with the skills to continue feeding themselves and their children nutritiously.

Understanding Me is a 13 week series of psycho-educational sessions which are delivered by our Residential and Clinical staff. The topics are highly relevant to our clients’ lives by equipping them with new tools in how to identify abuse and protect themselves and their children.

Partnering with a New Lens is an innovative project that began in February of 2014. Dr. Kathy Lawrence has over 25 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist. Dr. Lawrence meets with residents of Anselma House and Haven House, clients of our Outreach program as well as clients of our Clinical Support Worker at the shelter. This eliminates the need for transportation and has clients meeting in a setting in which they have become accustomed. Women and/or children are assessed and/or screened for mental health struggles, trauma, learning difficulties, behavioural difficulties and neurological difficulties. This helps both the client and our staff to have a better understanding of our clients’ challenges and vulnerabilities in moving beyond abuse. Safety plans are then developed with each client’s cognitive and developmental needs in mind. Many of our clients have suffered decades of complex trauma. It is imperative that they are properly assessed so that an appropriate and effective intervention can be implemented.

We are a partner in the Family Violence Project which integrates a myriad of partner agencies at one location with the goal being to provide seamless services for victims of domestic violence. We have tailored the project to fit the needs of Waterloo region. Although inspired by the San Diego model, one significant difference is the direct and active involvement of the shelter. Our initiative has Outreach workers onsite and acting as an essential part of the project.

With Waterloo Regional Police responding to over 6100 domestic violence calls per year, it was important to create a Memorandum of Understanding between Waterloo Regional Police Domestic Violence unit and Women’s Crisis Services. Whenever a criminal charge is laid, the police refer the matter to our Outreach workers, who then assume primary responsibility for safety planning with victims. This partnership is unique to Waterloo Region.