While we have on occasion worked with foster care programs and a juvenile evaluation and assessment shelter, our primary clients are the following:
- Domestic Violence Shelters – Since January 2013 we’ve made weekly visits to two DV shelters (Raphael House of Portland and Monika’s House in Washington County), working closely with their juvenile counselors. In late 2015 we added a third shelter (Clackamas Women’s Services in Clackamas County). We prefer to work with one child at a time so that we can support what each particular child needs without distraction. To stay in sync with each facility’s intervention strategies, the visiting handler joins the shelter staff in all relevant training so that goals and language used with the children are kept consistent.
- Summer Day Camps – This summer (2016) we added support for Good Neighbor Center’s 10-week summer camp. We hope to continue this happy relationship into the school year. In August 2016 we supported the Portland Police BoyStrength summer camp, and that Fall we began regular support for their after-school programs in Portland elementary schools (SUN).
- Residential Treatment Facilities – In 2014 we established a relationship with Parry Center (Trillium Family Services). This is a more challenging environment, so we are deliberately taking it slow as we add new children to the schedule.
- Elementary Schools – What started as “test of concept” series at McKay Elementary School in the Beaverton School Districts has blossomed into a strong, ongoing relationship. In this more structured environment, a team works with the counselor and four to six children at a time. The focus is, of necessity, less intensely on the individual on this setting, and more on group dynamics/teamwork. In each four-session series we work on themes identified by the counselor. After each S.T.A.R. session, the counselor picks up a thread introduced while working with the dog and weaves it into a further discussion on how that concept applies to people:
- Learning empathy: how to read signals from the dogs and also from people in order to understand and get along with others
- Positive Influence: training the dog in positive ways helps the students learn how to get along with others without bossing or bullying
- Social Skills: students will try new skills with the dogs, such as assertiveness, that are difficult to try with people, since the dogs are non-judgmental.
- Organizations that support domestic violence survivors – We love working with the energetic and innovative group called SCARS – Survivor Collective Alliance, Reaching Society. We joined the United Heroes for Hope in supporting SCARS’ 2nd annual SurvivorCon at Beaverton City Park on October 1, 2016!
- Organizations that support homeless youths – We have formed an alliance with HomePlate Youth Services – we meet with interested youths at one of their drop-in centers and engage them as “training partners” who help train our dogs for work with young children. This gives our handlers much-needed practice in the field.