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Compensation program for child witnesses to community violence unveiled

SAN FRANCISCO– District Attorney George Gascón has announced that a victims compensation program for children and youth who are witnesses of violent crime. The program provides up to $5000 in reimbursement for mental health counseling through California’s Victim Compensation Program.

“Community violence has profound lasting effects on our children. The District Attorney’s Office wants families to know they can access mental health services for children who are witnesses to violence,” said Gascón.

The goals of the program are to provide counseling to prevent children and youth who are exposed to violence from suffering profound emotional trauma, and aid them in reaching their full academic, social and emotional potential.

“Children’s exposure to violence is a public health problem with a devastating impact on children’s development, affecting their emotional growth, cognitive development, physical health and school performance, “ said Blia Moua, Safe Start Program Manager. “That is why SafeStart is partnering with the DA’s Office to reduce the impact of violence on young children by helping families access valuable resources in the community, such as the Victim Compensation Program. ”

Eligible witnesses are required to have been a minor at the time of witnessing the crime. There must be evidence that the crime occurred and documentation detailing the time, date, and proximity of the witness to the crime. There is no requirement that the minor file a police report.

Witnesses who qualify can apply for compensation through San Francisco’s Safe Start program located at the following locations:

· Chinatown: APA Family Support Services, 10 Nottingham Place

· Bayview: Bayview TLC Family Resource Center, Bayview Hunter’s Point YMCA, 1601 Lane St.

· Downtown: Compass Community Services, 995 Market Street, 5th Floor

· Mission/Potrero: Homeless Prenatal Program, 2500 18th Street

· Mission: Instituto Familiar de la Raza, 2919 Mission Street

· OMI: OMI Family Resource Center, 156 Broad Street

All services are optional, free and confidential, and available in English, Spanish, Cantonese and Mandarin. For more information, call Bethsaida Ruiz, Assistant Chief of Victim Compensation Program, 415-551-9543.

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