For the past 40 years, Women & Children First has worked tirelessly to empower women and their children to live independently and free from domestic violence by providing crisis intervention, safe shelter, social/legal advocacy and support services.
Women & Children First: The Center Against Family Violence (WCF) was founded in 1976 as Advocates for Battered Women by a group of citizens concerned about the effects of domestic violence on the Little Rock community. In July 1999, the name was changed to Women & Children First: The Center Against Family Violence to better reflect the scope of services provided for clients.
In the late 1970s, WCF primarily provided support services, including counseling through Arkansas Women’s Rights and accompanied victims while pressing charges against their batterers. The first safe shelter was opened in 1978, housing women only, in a donated private home in Little Rock.
In 1981, WCF joined with a handful of grassroots women’s groups to form the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV), a private nonprofit statewide network of coordinated services for victims of domestic violence. Together, with the assistance of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, these groups worked to pass legislation including the Arkansas Domestic Abuse Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Expanding Our Services
During the 1980s, the purchase of a storefront near Arkansas Children’s Hospital expanded the shelter to include accommodations for children, and WCF developed a court advocacy program to assist clients seeking Orders of Protections. To help support its growing needs, WCF began actively seeking federal and state funding and received funds from the federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and United Way.
Additionally, WCF began offering advocacy services for women and children, including support groups for sheltered residents and non-resident domestic violence survivors. The transitional housing program was also established to further enable families to live independently.
During the 1990s, WCF completely renovated its safe house facilities with assistance from the City of Little Rock. WCF also began providing classes to assist clients with educational and career goals, as well as classes in life skills, parenting, and the dynamics of domestic violence for shelter house guests.
Between 1999 and 2001, the shelter was filled to capacity almost every night and more than 100 hotline callers could not be accommodated. To meet the growing need, between 2002 and 2003, WCF doubled its size by moving to its current location.
Continuing Our Mission
WCF continues to serve our community in a large capacity. Recognizing that domestic violence not only affects women and children but many others, we accommodate men, teenage boys and those who are victims of human trafficking.
Today, Women & Children First continues to empower those who have been subjected to domestic violence. Over the past year, Women & Children First has provided these core services:
- Emergency Shelter: accommodations were provided to over 582 individuals, representing more than 8,069 shelter days.
- Advocacy Program: provided crisis intervention, case management, emotional support, totaling 1,408 support group hours and 1,948 individual support hours.
- Domestic Violence Hotline: answered 12,542 crisis calls.
- Court Advocacy Program: provided more than 1,000 women with legal support and court accompaniment.
- Transitional Housing: provided more than 541 case management hours and support services to families seeking permanent housing free of violence after leaving the shelter.
- Children’s Program: served over 200 children in the shelter, in addition to educational and group support activities.
- Community Outreach and Education: more than 50 presentations were given in the community, as well as 7 radio/TV interviews
Help us continue our mission to help victims “live independently and free from domestic violence by providing crisis intervention, safe shelter, social/legal advocacy and support services.”
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