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NOVA means help for kids exposed to violence

Nova-1Imagine a network of closely collaborating service providers and other partners.

See them in a formation designed for them to draw upon each other.

Know that it is all for the care of children exposed to violence, and to give support to their families.

Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. envisioned just such a scenario and on Wednesday he announced a program put together to make it real. The Network for Overcoming Violence and Abuse – or NOVA – already has begun providing services in neighborhoods within six zip codes in the Hickory Hill and Raleigh-Frayser areas. That's where data has shown high incidences in which children experience violence at home or are the victims or witnesses of crime.

"Our promise to the community is this will not be one more local child-based program that is pronounced with fanfare and then fades away," said Luttrell.

The launch of Nova unfolded in the leasing office of the Wingood Manor Apartments at 3463 Wingood Circle (just off S. Goodlett). That's where Samone Little and Tray Beard, family service providers for Agape Child & Family Services, have been working with children and families. They look to provide resources needed to lead healthy lifestyles after the horrors of domestic violence abuse.

Nova-2"Domestic violence affects kids' future and if I can do anything to help shape them in a positive way, I want to help," said Little. "I'm excited about NOVA and I covet Agape's philosophy of sharing and serving families in the Memphis community."

Luttrell said every day, behind the headlines and the news flashes, there are children hurt by what they see, or hear or feel. "This exposure to violence and resulting trauma can turn into many other problems, including bad behaviors, and too often the cycle of violence continues," he said.

In 2011, Shelby County's Office for Early Childhood and Youth received $2 million to build the collaborative and to begin providing trauma-informed counseling and other victim services in the initial service areas. Memphis was one of eight cities to net funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Defending Childhood Initiative.

"For a year, the NOVA partners – including social service nonprofits and academic and governmental organizations – have worked together to ensure that the system of care brought to these neighborhoods represents the best practices known to help children who have suffered from violence," said Luttrell.

"They also have worked hard to ensure that this is a program that will endure and grow.

Children living zip codes 38115, 38118, 38125, 38127, 38128 and 38141 can get NOVA services immediately, by referral or through direct contact with a trained provider, or by calling 901-222-3990. Besides having statistics showing the need, these neighborhoods have community resources and support systems that will help the families, Luttrell said.

The new NOVA program provides family service providers who will directly connect hurt children and their families to professional caregivers. The providers from Agape Child & Family Services are based in the Wingood Manor, Todds Creek and Bella Vista apartment communities. Other family service providers will work within the Protective Services Office and with court-appointed special advocates (CASA) in Juvenile Court, in the Family Safety Center and with Victims to Victory.

"Agape in conjunction with the NOVA partners are the only providers who are site-based taking the services directly into the community," said Agape Executive Director David Jordan. "We are here to make sure these families have the necessary tools to live healthy lives that will place them on the step to healing."

While it is hoped that NOVA services will be expanded in the next couple of years, Luttrell said any child can be connected to services at the same agencies, if a family member calls the service provider directly, or calls the 2-1-1 community LINKS number.

Luttrell said what makes NOVA unique is that the government and nonprofit providers have come together to coordinate training and work processes, enhancing their services in a way that has never been done before.

NOVA also is funding child therapists at the Exchange Club Family Center and Victims to Victory. In addition, training for child-care and youth development providers will help leverage the work of law enforcement and social service groups that have come together under the auspices of the Defending Childhood Initiative.

In addition to those agencies, other primary NOVA partners include the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA) at the University of Memphis, Consilience Group, LeBonheur Community Health & Wellbeing, Memphis Area Women's Council, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, Splash Creative (advertising firm), the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, and the University of Memphis Department of Social Work.

Nova, said Luttrell, fits perfectly under the umbrella of Operation: Safe Community.

"That community-wide effort's first five-year phase focused on suppression of crime," he said.

"Now, Operation: Safe Community is concentrating on intervention and prevention. Intervening in a positive and healing manner for children who experience violence and trauma lies at the very heart of this project."Imagine a network of closely collaborating service providers and other partners.

See them in a formation designed for them to draw upon each other.

Know that it is all for the care of children exposed to violence, and to give support to their families.

Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. envisioned just such a scenario and on Wednesday he announced a program put together to make it real. The Network for Overcoming Violence and Abuse – or NOVA – already has begun providing services in neighborhoods within six zip codes in the Hickory Hill and Raleigh-Frayser areas. That's where data has shown high incidences in which children experience violence at home or are the victims or witnesses of crime.

"Our promise to the community is this will not be one more local child-based program that is pronounced with fanfare and then fades away," said Luttrell.

The launch of Nova unfolded in the leasing office of the Wingood Manor Apartments at 3463 Wingood Circle (just off S. Goodlett). That's where Samone Little and Tray Beard, family service providers for Agape Child & Family Services, have been working with children and families. They look to provide resources needed to lead healthy lifestyles after the horrors of domestic violence abuse.

"Domestic violence affects kids' future and if I can do anything to help shape them in a positive way, I want to help," said Little. "I'm excited about NOVA and I covet Agape's philosophy of sharing and serving families in the Memphis community."

Luttrell said every day, behind the headlines and the news flashes, there are children hurt by what they see, or hear or feel. "This exposure to violence and resulting trauma can turn into many other problems, including bad behaviors, and too often the cycle of violence continues," he said.

In 2011, Shelby County's Office for Early Childhood and Youth received $2 million to build the collaborative and to begin providing trauma-informed counseling and other victim services in the initial service areas. Memphis was one of eight cities to net funding from the U.S. Department of Justice Defending Childhood Initiative.

"For a year, the NOVA partners – including social service nonprofits and academic and governmental organizations – have worked together to ensure that the system of care brought to these neighborhoods represents the best practices known to help children who have suffered from violence," said Luttrell.

"They also have worked hard to ensure that this is a program that will endure and grow.

Children living zip codes 38115, 38118, 38125, 38127, 38128 and 38141 can get NOVA services immediately, by referral or through direct contact with a trained provider, or by calling 901-222-3990. Besides having statistics showing the need, these neighborhoods have community resources and support systems that will help the families, Luttrell said.

The new NOVA program provides family service providers who will directly connect hurt children and their families to professional caregivers. The providers from Agape Child & Family Services are based in the Wingood Manor, Todds Creek and Bella Vista apartment communities. Other family service providers will work within the Protective Services Office and with court-appointed special advocates (CASA) in Juvenile Court, in the Family Safety Center and with Victims to Victory.

"Agape in conjunction with the NOVA partners are the only providers who are site-based taking the services directly into the community," said Agape Executive Director David Jordan. "We are here to make sure these families have the necessary tools to live healthy lives that will place them on the step to healing."

While it is hoped that NOVA services will be expanded in the next couple of years, Luttrell said any child can be connected to services at the same agencies, if a family member calls the service provider directly, or calls the 2-1-1 community LINKS number.

Luttrell said what makes NOVA unique is that the government and nonprofit providers have come together to coordinate training and work processes, enhancing their services in a way that has never been done before.

NOVA also is funding child therapists at the Exchange Club Family Center and Victims to Victory. In addition, training for child-care and youth development providers will help leverage the work of law enforcement and social service groups that have come together under the auspices of the Defending Childhood Initiative.

In addition to those agencies, other primary NOVA partners include the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action (CBANA) at the University of Memphis, Consilience Group, LeBonheur Community Health & Wellbeing, Memphis Area Women's Council, Memphis Child Advocacy Center, Splash Creative (advertising firm), the Tennessee Department of Children's Services, and the University of Memphis Department of Social Work.

Nova, said Luttrell, fits perfectly under the umbrella of Operation: Safe Community.

"That community-wide effort's first five-year phase focused on suppression of crime," he said.

"Now, Operation: Safe Community is concentrating on intervention and prevention. Intervening in a positive and healing manner for children who experience violence and trauma lies at the very heart of this project."

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