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ACWS Launches Learning Management System to Build Capacity and Prevent Violence

November 21, 2022

ACWS Launches Learning Management System to Build Capacity and Prevent Violence

Children Exposed to Domestic Violence to be Supported with Trauma-Informed Curriculum

Edmonton, Alberta—The Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) marked National Child Day (November 20th) with the launch the ACWS Learning Management System and its first online training program, The Healing Brain: Supporting Children from Trauma to Resilience.

The Healing Brain is a module-based, online course that participants can work through at their own pace. The training will give participants a better understanding of early childhood brain development, the impacts of trauma on children, and how to nurture resilience in children who have been exposed to domestic violence. Each module is directly linked to one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, to inform the ways service providers work with children through a lens of reconciliation.

“Working with children who have been exposed to domestic violence is one of the major prevention tactics that can be used to interrupt the cycle of violence from continuing into future generations,” said Mel Willerth, ACWS Program Development & Training Coordinator. “This curriculum was developed because children represent a large percentage of the residents who are served at shelters across Alberta, but it also has wide application beyond shelters—it’s very useful material for anyone working with children in the broader community.”

Over two thirds of people admitted to domestic violence shelters in Alberta are children who are accompanying mothers fleeing violence and abuse—in the 2021/22 fiscal year, 3,373 children were sheltered in ACWS member emergency and second stage shelters in the province[1].  Shelters offer a continuum of supports that include on-site childcare and playrooms in many shelters.

“Some shelters are also able to provide access to specialists—such as medical practitioners or clinical social workers—although this largely depends on whether the shelter is able to fundraise the resources needed to sustain these extra costs,” said ACWS Executive Director, Jan Reimer. “We’re very proud to roll out this training opportunity to our members and also make it available to members of the public who work with children.”

The ACWS Learning Management System (LMS) is a tool that may one day allow frontline service providers to offer micro-credentialing or similar accreditation programs via partnerships with educational facilities, allowing for more standardized training options for shelter workers. The next courses that are planned for inclusion in the ACWS LMS include Leading Change™ at Work: Addressing Domestic Violence, a course on safety planning with survivors, and an introductory course for new shelter workers.

The Healing Brain curriculum was made possible by a donation from IODE Alberta. The course will be free to the general public for the first two months, after which there may be a nominal fee, and will remain free for ACWS members. ACWS is currently looking for funding partners to offer future courses and welcomes inquiries from interested parties.

About National Child Day

November 20th is celebrated as National Child Day because the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on November 20, 1989.

About Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS)

Together, ACWS and its members work to end domestic violence—in our homes and throughout our communities.  A registered charity, ACWS is the provincial network organization of women’s shelters in Alberta. We bring close to four decades of experience and knowledge to serve our 39 members operating over 50 shelters across the province for women, children, and seniors facing domestic abuse. We advocate for ACWS members and work with them to end domestic violence through culture-shifting violence prevention programs, collective data and research, and front-line training. With support from ACWS, Alberta shelters are helping to provide safety, support families, and improve communities.


For further information or to arrange for an interview, please contact:

Olivia Street, Coordinator of Communications and Social Advocacy

[1] This statistic is found in the upcoming ACWS Annual Data Release of shelter experiences, which is in press to be released later in 2022.