Impact Stories:

Creating Safe Spaces for Children and Teens

Jewish Federation Takes Sacred Spaces Partnership to a New Level

At the heart of the Pittsburgh Jewish community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is helping to create safe and protected spaces for children and teens.

To fulfill this need, the Federation is teaming up again with Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Sacred Spaces to offer a new program, Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children, to youth-serving Jewish organizations in the community.

Aleinu is a program of Sacred Spaces that enables youth-serving organizations to implement “10 Best Practices” for safeguarding youth from maltreatment. The pioneering web-platform provides a wide range of resources that empower organizations to create their own safeguarding practices and policies by following step-by-step directions and advice, networking with other youth-serving organizations, and accessing Sacred Spaces’ team of child protection specialists through online office hours.

“This was not an initiative that came top down. Several youth-serving organizations approached Sacred Spaces last year to see if they could expand their safeguarding efforts to serve as models for organizations throughout the country. We decided as a Federation we could convene a local cohort in Pittsburgh to work on implementing best practices to ensure child safety, with the seasoned guidance of Sacred Spaces.”

Rabbi Amy Bardack, director of Jewish Life and Learning for the Jewish Federation

In the last year, with support from the Federation, Sacred Spaces assessed the Pittsburgh Jewish community’s understanding of child abuse and interest in additional abuse-prevention education through a community-wide survey and webinars. The many webinar attendees asked for continued resources and support for deeper, long-term efforts to strengthen their safeguards against child abuse. Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children answers this demand.

“The webinars we hosted and the survey we disseminated with Sacred Spaces this year laid the groundwork for understanding the value of having policies and procedures in place. It is our hope that the agencies that participate in Aleinu feel empowered to adopt best practices in safeguarding children from abuse and appreciate having their colleagues in the cohort to turn to for ongoing support in this difficult work," says Rabbi Bardack.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to partner with the Jewish Federation as they support the Jewish youth-serving organizations in Pittsburgh making long-term changes to safeguard our youth.”

Shira Berkovits, president and CEO of Sacred Spaces

The Jewish Federation will subsidize 75% of program participation costs for the 5- to 10-member cohort. Pittsburgh organizations comprise the third Aleinu cohort in the United States, after cohorts in New York City and Chicago. Working together, these organizations will build on the safeguarding efforts of Pittsburgh’s broader community to make the Pittsburgh Jewish community safer, healthier, and stronger.

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