Insights From Barrier Free Living’s Secret Garden Program
Since 1990, Barrier Free Living’s community-based Secret Garden program has been working with survivors of domestic violence with disabilities providing counseling, support groups, occupational therapy and case management services.
During October’s Domestic Violence Awareness month, the team is busy with outreach, events and presentations. They also offer domestic violence related trainings year-round (view a short film about the trainings here). We touched based with the team, to take a closer look at what makes this dynamic program so unique and valuable.
What makes the Secret Garden unique?
“I think the dual focus on interpersonal violence and disability and how those two factors intersect with all of our clients’ various identities is so important. Many other agencies in NYC solely focus on intimate partner violence and do not uniquely consider situations through a disability lens.”
How does you team work together?
“We work together very close to make sure that our clients are getting the services they need. We usually check in with each other.”
“Collaboration is key to the success of our work and as a team. Secret Garden staff communicates effectively to assist any client of the program. For example, as a Case Manager, I might become aware that my client is in need of counseling and thereafter, I would communicate the same to my supervisor who will then assign a Social Worker to start working with the client. Also, I am able to provide referrals to address clients’ concerns such as housing, counseling, legal services, financial assistance. As a team we work together to spread the word about Barrier Free Living and our specific services.”
“Our team works together by being extremely collaborative on shared clients. We are constantly checking in with each other and providing updates so the workers can be on the same page and present as a united front, especially to clients who may try to split. Additionally with our open door policy, even if workers do not share a client, we are all encouraged to draw from our colleague’s expertise and knowledge to best assist all clients.”
Can you share a success story?
“A client who was homeless came in for case management and counseling services. The case manager collaborated not only with the social worker but also reached out to (Barrier Free Livings’s) Freedom House (domestic violence shelter, view a virtual tour of Freedom House here) to secure her a spot in the shelter. In this way two programs were able to provide this client with services and a secure place.”
How do you grow and change as a team?
“I believe being able to communicate, having a plan, knowing what the goal is, being able to delegate tasks, are what makes us grow and change as a team.”
“We grow through communication, staff meetings, informal and formal case conferencing, creating agency policies and procedures, and collaboration for clients.”
“Our staff meetings help us to grow and change as a team. That experience helps us to work closely and support each other, as we are going through a rough phase. Also, these meetings are very helpful for us to know what is going on with our team, clients and any news from outside organizations that would affect us.”
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