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Empowering adolescent girls to lead healthy and productive lives within their families and communities
Located in the hills of Northwest Portland, White Shield has been serving women and children at its current setting since 1914. The center began as a maternity home and hospital for young women. As social mores changed, residential treatment services emerged - serving adolescent girls, many of whom are pregnant or parenting an infant/toddler.
The White Shield Center campus is comprised of three behavior rehabilitation residential treatment units for adolescent girls (ages 12-20) - each with a specialized focus: Teen Parenting, Wildflowers, and the Cottage. The Miller Early Learning Center, is a day care setting for children ages 0-3.
The holistic framework through which services are offered considers each person's story, knowing that all too often tragic circumstances have occurred in their lives prior to their arrival that have affected their whole person and perhaps members their family. This provides a lens that recognizes the impact of childhood trauma. Asking questions such as "How do you see yourself?" and "Who is your community - or the community that speaks to you?" gives insight into gender, cultural and spiritual identity. The answers inform individualized plans to meet their differing needs. In the Miller Early Learning Center, prevention of childhood trauma creates opportunity for generational healing and change.
The primary focus across programs is to create a safe, nurturing place to heal, grow and to learn important skills to empower, transform and change the trajectory of participants' lives. White Shield uses evidence and research-based practices, including Collaborative Problem Solving, in the context of positive, healthy relationships with adults to lay the foundation where insight, knowledge, skills and experience can lead to personal growth, future stability and long-term success.
The five CORE approaches of a gender-responsive program: Relational, Strength-Based, Trauma-Informed, Culturally Responsive, Holistic.
The Salvation Army White Shield Center has a long history and presence in Portland, Oregon. It began in 1899 in NE Portland, moving to its current location in 1914. A series of partnerships and mergers brought the work, passion and dedication of individuals and organizations through the early 1900's, such as E. Henry Wemme, Charles Crittenton, J.J. Cole, Miss Jennie Carlson, Henry W. Wels, The Women's Temperance Union and the Christian Science church. In 1920, The Salvation Army purchased the center and carried forth the collective mission and vision to serve vulnerable girls, women and children through services at White Shield.
The four-acre wooded location provided seclusion with close access to the city. The two-level Colonial Revival style architecture overlooked the river and north Portland. The beautifully landscaped land and gardens provided refuge.
The establishment opened its doors to young women without discrimination. Once admitted, girls were placed into one of 40 rooms, some equipped to support the needs of expectant mothers. Living conditions were made as homelike as possible. Expectant mothers would deliver in the Henry Wemme Memorial Hospital on site, while complicated deliveries and births were facilitated at Emanuel Hospital. Between World War II and the early 1970's, many young women felt familial and societal pressure to place their children for adoption. Young mothers received support services until they were able to go out into the world, or until a family member or friend could provide a place for them.
Today, the center provides residential treatment services for girls and young women ages 12-20 and day care for infants and toddlers 0-3. Program participants are referred by Oregon's Department of Human Services Child Welfare or the Oregon Youth Authority. In keeping with its early history, White Shield opens its doors without discrimination.