She couldn’t breathe. Her vision blurred, then darkened into a shrinking tunnel as the father of their five-month-old child, continue to strangle her.
Releasing his grip, just before she lost consciousness, Andrea said she was able to call the police and shortly after he was arrested, but she was left not knowing what to do next.
“I knew I couldn’t stay there. I didn’t want to be in a place where he’d know where I was,” said Andrea, whose last name has be omitted to protect her identity. “I was homeless and jobless.”
With no family in the Bellevue area, Andrea and her son were placed in an emergency shelter and it was there she learned about a program that transformed her life forever.
Child Care Resources, a King County service agency dedicating to helping parents and families find stable housing as well as child care, began working with Andrea to establish and pay for responsible care for her son.
“How can I go to a job interview or even look for a job when I don’t have a safe place for my son to go? I had no way to pay for any sort of care,” she said. “If Child Care Resources weren’t helping pay for childcare I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I wouldn’t have made it otherwise.”
Five years after the 2009 assault, Andrea and her son have a place to live, she completed her advanced paralegal certificate and now working in a local law firm where she’s able to support the two of them.
“I finally have peace of mind,” she said. To know that the most precious thing in my life is taken care of. I’ve been able to further my career and take care of myself because there’s someone to help take care of my son.”
For more than a decade, the organization has helped thousands of families in King County get their lives back on track, said Terrie Yaffe, homeless program lead for Child Care Resources.
Andrea said even though she was homeless and jobless, she was treated with unexpected respect and encouragement from her caseworker.
“She was my advocate,” Andrea said. “They make you feel safe. You know they’re on your side. They’ve helping with thousands of dollars of bills for me and my son.”
Serving between 550 and 600 families annually, Yaffe said 40 to 60 percent each year are coming from domestic violence situations, living in emergency shelters.As the parents deal with the numerous, and often unexpected legal situations, the children are given a space where they can make new friends, where they can feel safe, and continue their education, she said.
“We’re an agency that looks at early education being vitally important for all children, and homeless children are no different,” she said. “The children are already experiencing the stresses of having to leave familiar situations, so this gives parents a chance to let their children know they’re finding a safe place for them … somewhere of their own where they feel they belong.”
Once a family has been selected for the program, the case workers, parent representatives or homeless child care representatives, identify nearby child care facilities, setting up meetings between the providers and the parents.
For the staff of Child Care Resources, the facility has to be a place of learning as well as caring, Yaffe said, not just somewhere where the children are sitting in front of a TV set all day.
Safety was something Andrea said she thought she may never feel again following the domestic assault, but because of her caseworker, everything changed.
“She provided me the means to move forward,” Andrea said. “There’s no way to repay that.”
Although the organization’s resources are limited, which can limit how many families are served, Yaffe said people’s donations go a long way to helping those in need.
Anyone in need of assistance is encouraged to contact the Homeless Hotline between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at 206-329-5842.For information about how to make a donation, contact Susann Edmon at 206-329-1011 ext. 266.
Josh Stilts: 425-453-4290; firstname.lastname@example.org