A Space to Heal

October 1, 2021

For more than 7 years, PACES and Sunflower House have worked together to provide a safe haven for children who have experienced abuse, as well as their families – a place where they can find support, receive services and heal.

“My goal is for no child to ever be abused. But if a child has experienced abuse, I want them to have every service and opportunity to heal,” says Cindy Riddell, Child Assessment Program Director at Sunflower House.

Riddell works closely with a team of therapists from PACES who provide free therapy to children and families who have been seen at Sunflower House for a forensic interview. There are no limitations on how long a child can receive services.

“We just want to make sure these kids get the help they need when they’ve been through a traumatic experience,” says Riddell.

The partnership between PACES and Sunflower House expanded in the fall of 2020 to include offering treatment to children with problematic sexual behaviors. Since the program’s creation, nine children and their families have gone through the intensive treatment program. Four of the children have already graduated.

The program serves children between the ages of 7 and 12 who exhibit problematic sexual behaviors, including aggressive sexual behavior or failure to respect someone’s physical boundaries. Through the program, children learn about rules around sexual behavior. The child’s family is also highly involved in the program, attending each session and receiving practical information to help support their child.

“Families have been extremely happy with the program,” says Natalia Pesado, Child Bilingual Therapist with PACES. “They are happy to have a place where they can speak to a therapist who feels confident having these types of conversations. That is very freeing. They know they have a place to get answers and support.”

This new program is just another way that PACES and Sunflower House are working together to keep local children safe.

“We want every child to have a happy and healthy childhood,” says Pesado. “Every child deserves that.”