Grant Supports Child Care Drop-In Center at Domestic Relations Court
Victim Assistance Program director expresses gratitude to David R. and Cheryl L. Venarge Fund
David and Cheryl Venarge established a donor-advised fund at Akron Community Foundation in 1999 to allow their entire family to give back to the community they love. Three generations of their family meet annually at The Center for Family Philanthropy of Akron Community Foundation to review program descriptions from organizations seeking funding that have been identified by Akron Community Foundation and fall within the family's areas of charitable interest. A grant made by the David R. and Cheryl L. Venarge Fund in 2022 supported the creation of a new program developed by Victim Assistance Program, the Children Who Witness Violence Drop-In Center.
On Sept. 1, 2022, Victim Assistance Program opened the new Children Who Witness Violence Drop-In Center, located on-site at the Summit County Domestic Relations Court. The center provides free, immediate and unscheduled child care services to the children of guardians seeking civil protection orders. Support from the David R. and Cheryl L. Venarge Fund allows trained specialists to provide age-appropriate, trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate activities to children in their care 55 times from September to December 2022.
The drop-in center isn't just meaningful for children, but also for parents and guardians. Prior to the development of the center, guardians had to secure outside child care before they could have their hearing. A joint press release from Victim Assistance Program and Summit County Domestic Relations Court states, "The program will empower petitioners who face a child care barrier to have a safe space for their child(ren) while seeking a civil protection order from the court and receiving support from trained victim advocates."
In 2022, Victim Assistance Program provided 85,524 services to 4,666 Summit County residents whose lives were impacted by crisis, violence or tragedy. 1,502 of these individuals had minor children in their care. As a result, 3,018 children benefited from Victim Assistance Program's services. In total, 41 families utilized child care services through the Children Who Witness Violence Drop-In Center in the four months the center was open in 2022 alone. These families were able to seek safety by way of civil protection order, knowing that their children were cared for and safe.
Rebecca Cool, director of services at Victim Assistance Program, said, "Our goal of renovating and supplying the Children Who Witness Violence Drop-In Center was made possible because of the award made by the David R. and Cheryl L. Venarge Fund. On behalf of Victim Assistance Program, I thank them for their generous contribution, which allows us to continue fulfilling our mission, moving victims in Summit County from hardship to healing."