As a humane educator, Melissa Wolf is always looking for ways to improve and increase her reach in the community. That’s how she heard about The HSUS’s Certified Humane Education Specialist (CHES) program, a series of self-paced online courses that teach participants effective techniques for humane education.
A humane educator with Monterey County Animal Services in California, Wolf wanted to improve her credentials and knew the courses would, at the least, provide her with useful tools and information for community outreach. What she didn’t realize was that it would be the direct impetus for a new program to help children and animals.
On the Path to Compassion
One CHES course, Tales Kids Tell, explores the problem of cruelty to animals and how to recognize if cruelty is happening in a child’s home. One of the assignments was to contact a community agency that offers parenting or family skills classes and find out if that agency also offered any kind of pet care training.
Wolf decided to call Pathways to Safety, a nonprofit arm of California’s Child Protective Services. Pathways to Safety (PTS) is an early intervention program for families and children that may be at risk but do not meet the legal definition for abuse or neglect.
Wolf learned that though PTS did not offer pet care training, they were receptive to the idea and wanted more information. Wolf asked Stephanie Clark, Manager of Training for The HSUS and instructor of the CHES classes, for help in putting together a plan for working with PTS.
Classes for parents are a major component of the PTS program, during which children previously attended day care. Now, Wolf uses that time to give the children valuable lessons on topics like pet care and dog bite prevention. Parents, children, and PTS staff have all responded positively to the classes.
Wolf believes the need and desire for these kinds of partnerships is there; all it takes is for one person to make the connection and gets things started. “So often I think we miss the mark because whether we work in human welfare, animal welfare, law enforcement, the judicial system, or other public services, we get so stuck in our own silo. We forget that we’re all in this mission together to help protect the voiceless victims: the elderly, the disabled, the children, the animals.”
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