1988 Finalist
County of San Bernardino, California
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards
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The purpose of the Bethlehem House Domestic Violence Shelter Program is to break the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence and to provide the men, women, and child participants with the tools of se1f-discovery and self-mastery. This objective is met primarily through an innovative, long-term, therapeutic approach. While all other such shelter facilities in the county (and most in the nation) provide for a one month stay, Bethlehem House encourages women to remain in residence from a minimum of three months to a maximum of one year.

This initiative includes holistic, full-service, residential and day treatment components which emphasizes psychotherapy, counseling, diet, exercise, education, and community living and socialization skills, individually tailored to the needs of each client. Services offered at the Bethlehem House also include individual and group counseling and psychotherapy for women and children, chemical dependency recovery, parenting and home management skills, educational assessment and enhancement, communication and assertive behavior skills, job skills assessment, and job training. A fully functioning therapeutic preschool and daycare are also maintained on site. In addition, emergency transportation, medical referral, legal referral, court and social service advocacy are provided to program participants. Off-site drop-in centers are available to serve persons whose situations do not require the safety of a shelter.

Local law enforcement agencies also receive a Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified course of instruction in domestic violence laws and procedures through Bethlehem House staff. The program is conducted as part of the regular training at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Training Academy. In addition, trustees of penal institutions in San Bernardino and Riverside counties receive pre­release education through Bethlehem House.

The comprehensive therapeutic and educational program has established a proven record of 95 percent rate of non-return to violent relationships. Because of this success rate, monitors from various funding agencies have suggested that the program's most important achievement is to establish concretely the efficacy of a therapeutically-oriented long-term shelter program over non-therapeutic short-term shelters.