A daycare for children exposed to trauma is being established in Shediac, N.B. by the Beauséjour Family Crisis Resource Centre.
The centre, which supports victims of family violence and sexual assault, says the ‘trauma daycare’ is needed to address “a gap” across the country.
“Trauma daycares don’t exist really in North America,” says Kristal LeBlanc, the centre’s CEO. “We will be the second in North America.”
“Here, more than 400 children come due to a history of trauma exposure,” she says. “That can be anything from witnessing family violence in the home, being a victim themselves of psychological abuse, of sexual abuse, of physical abuse, and not just trauma related to violence, but also trauma that happens sometimes to young kids.”
The idea, similar to a project in development in Victoria, B.C., came from a survivor, a client at the shelter, LeBlanc says.
“It was actually an idea that came from a survivor who said, my child’s been through a lot and he’s still sleeping with his mattress up against his door in his bedroom, and he’s still petrified,” she says.
“You cannot discount what that lived experience provides for a community that’s trying to develop a project. You need to know exactly what their needs are,” LeBlanc says. “They’re the ones that see their child go through some of the negative impacts of early trauma, some tantrums, some difficulty expressing themselves difficulties and emotional regulation.”
The daycare will be inside the existing 19,000 square-foot building after necessary renovations are completed.
“If these kids don’t receive this treatment now and the trauma specialist that they require, you know, including art therapy and having educators that can look at early signs of trauma and address it in the moment, that’s when you see rates of suicide, higher rates of incarceration,” LeBlanc says.
“You see these children continuing that cycle of violence and unfortunately, becoming perpetrators in their adult lives. So we need to get to them at that critical age.”
LeBlanc says they’ve seen a 30 per cent increase in calls since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funding goal and timeline
The charity organization launched a campaign this week calling for the public’s assistance to help reach their fundraising goal of $125, 000 in “seed money.”
Currently, they’re at about $70, 000, LeBlanc says.
But the annual ‘Run for Women’, a big fundraiser for the shelter is fast approaching and LeBlanc says they’re short 500 registrants.
The run will take place virtually this year between July 4-11.
$35 from each registration goes directly to the shelter to support the project.
LeBlanc says despite the daycare requiring renovations, rather than a new build, it will take some time to complete.
“I’m hoping in the next 12 to 18 months,” LeBlanc says.
It can take up to a year when it comes to provincial permit requirements, finalizing funding streams and hiring educators, she says.