Going to a court hearing is stressful for anyone. Whether it’s for an unpaid speeding ticket or sitting on a jury, entering the immense authority of the building can be nerve wracking.

The experience for children can be even more challenging.  Thanks to generous Children’s Home & Aid donors and partners, families who must bring their children to court at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington have the support of The Children’s Room.

The Children’s Room is a Children’s Home & Aid supported program that offers families a safe, child-focused place for children to be cared for while their parents are participating in court hearings. The Children’s Room offers snacks, games, a TV and everything a child needs to feel safe. It acts as a haven, shielding children from the potential trauma of seeing and hearing distressing family events relived in court proceedings.

“If a parent is dealing with a domestic violence situation, details of the abuse is not something that a little ear should have to hear,” Tammy Murrell commented. “That child has already gone through enough and that is why we have the Children’s Room.”

Tammy Murrell is a clinical supervisor with Children’s Home & Aid and has overseen the Children’s Room program for over a year. She has seen first-hand the difference the program can have on a child and family’s life.

“We are able to prevent a child from experiencing trauma, but we are also able to connect families with much needed resources and programs.” Tammy explained. “The Children’s Room is temporary but the support we give can last past their child’s time with us.”

Between 2019-2020, the Children’s room served 258 children and provided 339 hours of care. Of all the kids who visited the courts, 16% had a parent discussing a domestic violence incident. Unfortunately, since Covid-19 has been in effect, that number continues to climb.

“There has been a large spike in domestic violence cases throughout McLean county,” Tammy mentioned, “some being severe enough to result in felony charges being issued.”

Covid-19 has limited the Children’s Room capacity and ability to be at full function. In the past, the Children’s Room could hold multiple children in their rooms but now they are only able to have one family at a time to control the spread. The demand for Children’s Room’s resources has not slowed down and since kids are doing remote learning, parents are no longer have someone to watch their children during the hearings.

Thank you to donors who have helped us make this crucial program available for the children and families in McLean County.