Children and young people are important to us in Sonas – boys and girls up to the age of 18 account for half of the people who engage with our services every year. If you are a child, young person or parent reading this – then be assured that the wellbeing, welfare and protection of a child or young person in our services is a priority in our organisation. Sonas has a Code of Conduct for working with children and a Children’s Charter seeing and hearing children is key to our work – and that applies to Women and Children’s Support Teams equally. Sonas’s child protection policy reflects the Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children National Guidelines (2011). From our recruitment to our induction process, from case management and to ongoing training, child welfare and protection is woven into our practice, policy and procedures. All Sonas staff are Garda vetted. All Sonas staff are Children First trained and all service managers have received Designated Liaison Person training.
The best interests of the child are paramount in all service considerations. Sonas works from a basis of women’s and children’s rights.
In accordance with The Children First Act 2015, Sonas is in the process of developing a Child Safeguarding Statement. The statement will be developed with guidance from Tusla – the Child and Family Agency and will be displayed in all Sonas services and made publicly available.
We have spent over 21 years working with women and children who have experienced domestic abuse and other forms of abuse: 10-year-old Liam’s Story , Mum Carol’s Story, Deirdre’s Story– Children’s Support Team member. Our dedicated Children’s Support Team works alongside our Women’s Support Team colleagues in all site based services: Sonas refuge, supported housing – Killester, Clondalkin, Ringsend and Wicklow – as well as our Safe Home service in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area. Sonas’s refuge and supported housing in Killester, Clondalkin, Ringsend and Wicklow each has a playroom and playground for children’s use.
What can I expect from the service?
A member of our Children’s Support Team will carry out an assessment of needs and develop an individual support plan to address key areas of need.
The service provides 1 to 1 support and group work and advocacy with external agencies to ensure that women and children who have experienced domestic violence get the help that they need.
How long will support be provided for?
Support will be provided for as long as children and young people remain in the service
How to access / make a referral to Sonas Children’s Services?
Once in Sonas Refuge, Supported Housing and Safe Home, a Children’s Support Team will arrange to meet with any new families coming into the service to complete a needs assessment and develop a support plan; we also work with mothers whose children do not live with them but who still want to explore these issues.
How do we work with children, young people and women who are mothers?
We work directly with children on their experiences, emotions and development in the following ways:
- Group work
- Workshops dealing with specific issues
- Individual 1 to 1 sessions with children
- Risk assessment and safety planning
Our Children’s Support Team work with mothers on the following;
- Domestic violence issues
- Breakdown of the family unit
- Legal support and court accompaniment in relation to custody, access and reunification with children in care
- Child development (physical, social and emotional)
- Advocacy work with other services
Family or group work involves:
- Rebuilding / strengthening mother and child bond
- Help mother and child to communicate
- Help mother and child to express their feelings about their experiences