For most of these children, life with a pimp was better than life at home and meager shelter settings cannot compete with the lifestyle afforded through prostitution and association with a pimp.
In most cases, the pimp has provided the child with a motive to work as a prostitute and a rationale for deferred gratification. "If you work hard I will put together the money and buy a business and a home and you can have my baby" is a common rationale provided by a pimp.
Without sophisticated shelter/home case management and comprehensive social services combined with adequate living quarters, these children will return to the streets because underfunded and underdeveloped shelter/homes cannot compete with the promises of a pimp.
America's children victimized by prostitution require intense residential services where they are given an opportunity to be a child – sometimes for the first time in their lives. They need to attend school in a safe environment, to have their medical and psychological needs met and to have access to safe living arrangements when they enter adulthood. Residential care for American children is expensive and often times these children are not as sympathetic or inexpensive to care for as those in other countries.
Children of the Night is the only full-service program in North America designed specifically for American children who have been forced to prostitute right here in the United States – girls AND boys. Most of these children have been forced to prostitute in hot-sheet motels and truck stops and many have been held in jails on "material witness holds" until they testify against a pimp/trafficker. Until they have reached the Children of the Night home, life with a pimp may have been better than home or the detention centers where they have been held.
All Children of the Night services are FREE - we are supported by private donations and are not reliant on state, county or federal funds for our services.
We receive America's child prostitutes ages 11-17 in our home 24/7. Two things are required:
a child's consent determined in a telephone conversation with the child, and the appropriate guardian's verbal consent (on the telephone) whether that is a parent, social worker or probation officer.
While the intake process requires paperwork such as an admission agreement and medical consent, the signing of these papers do not delay the admission of a child into the Children of the Night home.
Children of the Night funds the taxi or airfare transportation of a child to the Children of the Night home at all hours of the day and night including weekends and holidays. When possible we arrange for non-stop flights and we always have a child care staff member at the airport to escort the child to the Children of the Night home.
Once a child arrives in the home they are offered food, fresh clothing, hygiene items and a shower and we call the child's legal guardian to let them know the child has arrived safely.
The Children of the Night hotline worker once again reviews the activities of the Children of the Night home and provides the child with a tour of the facility introducing the child to other residents and child care staff.
The child is then assigned a bedroom. Each bedroom has two single beds, a clothing closet and drawers and a private bathroom.
The child care worker’s objective is to help each child feel welcome and accepted. It is through this initial relationship that the child will be able to accomplish the hard work ahead of him/her.
This is the time to answer some very basic questions such as: Where will he/she sleep? When will he/she eat? Can he/she get new clothes or wash their own? Is there a curfew? What happens during the day?
Following the initial intake the child assumes the shelter home schedule.
|Monday – Thursday|
|8:15 a.m.||Breakfast with Child Care Staff|
|9:00 a.m.||Shower and dress|
|10:00 a.m.||Participation in our On-site School
Assignments in Grade Appropriate Subjects (Multi-Level Classroom)
Electives: Keyboarding, Independent Living, Drivers Education
|12:00 p.m.||Lunch with Child Care Staff|
|1:00 p.m.||Return to Class|
Residents are excused from classes for one-on-one appointments with their caseworker.
A child care worker is assigned to accompany residents to medical appointments including optometry and dental, counseling appointments and any other outside appointment or activity.
|5:00 p.m.||Quiet Time|
|6:00 p.m.||Dinner with Child Care Staff|
|7–8:30 p.m.||Evening Workshop
(Arts & crafts, yoga, acting and more, taught by volunteers and supervised by child care staff)
On Fridays our children are taken on supervised trips to points of interest in the Los Angeles area. These outings include waterparks, amusement parks, museums, China Town, horseback riding, snowboarding, snorkeling and kayaking, the circus, the zoo, restaurants and movies.
Saturday is the only unstructured day in the Children of the Night home. We rent movies and video games for the weekend. The shelter home is furnished with arts and crafts materials, computers for homework (without internet access), televisions, DVD players, and a PlayStation, Xbox and Wii. Each resident has a CD player which has been assigned at the time of intake. Saturday is a day of rest and an opportunity for our children to learn how to occupy free time.
On Sundays, the children who signed up for church during the staff meeting are accompanied to a local church. Church participation is voluntary.
In the afternoon the children participate in a softball game or kick ball game among themselves with the Children of the Night sports coach. A Children of the Night cook prepares a family style barbeque and when families are visiting they often participate in this activity.
For many children who enter our home, it is the first experience of living in a loving environment where the importance of personal space is appreciated, and planned activities and emotional and educational support to excel in school are provided. Child care staff members are always present and vigilant, always there to wipe away tears, offer encouragement to complete homework assignments, and available to present awards for children's accomplishments. Because these children have often experienced horrific childhoods where no one appeared to be in control and early life was chaotic, a schedule of activities that provides consistency, expectation and reliability is important to the growth and development of the child. The stability of a schedule and of knowing what is going to happen next and the consistency of that happening teaches the child to trust and rely on responsible adults.
Education is important to our children's future. To find a job, they must be able to read job advertisements. To apply for a job, they must be able to spell and understand various application forms. They must use math to figure out whether they can live on their job income and to budget their money.
All residents are required to attend school until they are placed in jobs or other programs. The Children of the Night school is designed to meet individual educational needs. Residents may prepare for the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) or General Education Diploma (GED) or complete course work to fulfill high school requirements.
Children of the Night is the beneficiary of a corporate gift of the Kumon math and reading program. Residents spend about 20 minutes a day working on the Kumon program. Our philosophy is that all children can learn math and reading if these subjects are presented in small, easy-to-grasp segments.
Absence from school is permitted only with a written medical doctor's order.
Within 72 hours of arrival at Children of the Night's shelter home, each child is provided a needs and service assessment. It is during this initial meeting with a caseworker that the child is asked "What do you want to be when you grow up?" The answer to this question becomes the child's life plan and Children of the Night child care staff work toward helping the child reach their life goal.
During the course of a stay at Children of the Night, children may change their life plan as they grow and develop but many stick with their initial goal. It is through this process that we teach our children how to set and obtain goals.
Many children voluntarily opt to stay for a year for optimum treatment; residents may stay until they are 18.
A weekly Residents' Meeting led by administrative staff and closed to other staff provides residents with the opportunity to speak freely and review program activities including menus, weekend movie rentals, selection of weekly outings, special requests for hygiene or activities, evaluation of volunteers and their workshops as well as the evaluation of child care staff and their performance. Residents are encouraged to report broken equipment and sign up for laundry, TV, computers, treadmill, and video games.
The residents attend the weekly Children of the Night staff meeting with the 25 full time child care staff. During the staff meeting there are introductions of new staff, new residents, program announcements, review of medications for the week, school awards and the review of each child's general case plan so that all child care staff can support the resident in obtaining his/her goals.
Every Children of the Night resident is offered long-term support through our alumni program. Residents of our home and children who have received out-patient services are life-long members of the Children of the Night "family," receiving ongoing support through our Alumni Program.
Some of the services offered to alumni include résumé preparation, job placement, college placement, assistance with applying for financial aid for college, financial assistance to purchase books or school supplies or help obtaining Supplemental Social Security Benefits for the totally disabled. We offer long-term social services for those who just can't break the cycle of drugs, prostitution, multiple pregnancies or reliance on welfare.
Children of the Night graduates who have successfully completed the program continue to receive support services and many become donors to the Children of the Night program. Often times they will participate in Children of the Night publicity and serve as spokespersons at our in-house events.