St. Louis Children’s Hospital’s Emergency Department treats approximately 250 children annually due to interpersonal violence. Many of the children who have been the victim of interpersonal violence will go on to initiate violence toward others leading to unsafe communities and further injury and death. The Victim of Violence Program seeks to curb the reoccurrence of interpersonal violence in the lives of children who have been shot, stabbed or assaulted, involved in domestic violence and Fit for Confinement evaluations.
- Funded by donors to St. Louis Children’s Hospital, this program partners with St. Louis City and County Police, St. Louis City and County Family Court, St. Louis City and County school districts and school social workers in St. Louis City schools.
- Program serves children ages 8-19 years who have been involved in interpersonal violence and each is offered a mentor.
- Contact begins in the Emergency Department (ED) with ED social workers approaching the family, developing rapport with family and child and introducing them to the program —providing brochures and business cards and informing them that a mentor will contact them within 24 hours.
- The mentor makes contact with the family within 24 hours of them being seen in the ED. If they are discharged the mentor will see them in the community, and if they are admitted they will be seen inpatient.
- The first visit is made with caretaker and child and if they agree to participate in the mentor program, regular meetings are held at a mutually agreed upon site. These meetings may or may not include the caretaker but at some point the child will have time alone with the mentor to begin to develop goals and treatment plans and to process the reasons that led up to the ED treatment.
- Mentors provide their (hospital furnished) cell phone numbers to the children and are available by telephone 24/7 for emergencies.
- Mentors work with parents who are willing to engage and provide mediation and therapeutic counseling as well as modeling of parenting skills.
- There are no limits to the time frame of the services or set intervals for meetings; these are determined by the needs of each child. The services and intervals are adjusted as the child progresses in the program.
- Discharge is mutually agreed upon by the child and the mentor, and the door is left open for contact should they want to talk or need guidance.
- To be engaged in the program, a minimum of six sessions with the mentor is required. Some children will withdraw before reaching the six sessions; others will become inactive after six sessions but will maintain sporadic contact. After prolonged periods of no contact, the mentor will close the case. These are lost to follow up and fall into the category of unable to retain.
- Letters are mailed with self-addressed stamped envelopes to ask the child/family if they are interested in continuing in the program before closing the case. If no contact is made within two weeks, the case is closed but they are encouraged to contact the mentor if they should change their mind.
- Mentors communicate with school personnel, deputy juvenile officers, court personnel, police officers and community agency staff who are involved with the families/child.
Watch one of our mentors speak to KSDK about the unprecedented number of victims of violence in St. Louis in 2020.