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Children, Youth and Families Programs

Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Young girls making collages with magazine pictures Heart & Shield Children’s Site Coordinator Melinda Gomez helps girls make and share collages of activities they enjoy or want to learn. Children and parents can discuss the pictures, encouraging communication and bonding. Photo by Jill Baker-Tingey, Elko County Extension Educator.

Program works to promote resiliency, strengthen positive future relationships and stop the domestic violence cycle


Nevada’s domestic violence rates are some of the highest in the nation. Needs assessments in Elko and Churchill Counties showed that domestic violence prevention is a high-priority issue. Children living in violent homes have an increased risk for abuse. Research shows that as children witness violence in the home, they develop attitudes about violence and power in relationships that can be passed on to future generations. Children who witness violence also experience long-lasting problems such as adult depression, anxiety, trauma-related symptoms, and increased tolerance for and use of violence in relationships.

Response/What’s Been Done

Extension’s Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program works to spread awareness and prevent violence in Elko and Churchill Counties in three ways:

  1. Law enforcement training. In 2009, Extension worked with law enforcement to create training on optimal law enforcement response to domestic incidents.
  2. Community education. Since 2013, Extension educated local agencies, human services providers and other partners about the impact of domestic violence and ways to help survivors.
  3. Direct education and noncrisis intervention for surviving families to promote resiliency, strengthen positive future relationships, and stop the violence cycle. Extension developed a curriculum in 2014, and in 2015, offered a 9-week series and monthly family activities for survivors.

Since 2015, 68 adults and 138 youth completed the third part of the program, including 39 adults and 72 youth in 2017. Extension also gave 47 community education presentations in 2017.

Results/Impact and Partners

Overall, participating parents recognized that how they respond in the aftermath of violence affected their children’s resilience. In addition, participants rated 20 of 27 activities four or more, out of five, in terms of how helpful the activities were. In answers to three open-ended questions after the direct education and noncrisis intervention series, parents and children indicated improved communication, increased ability to handle frustration and an enhanced understanding of each other.

Program staff noted that families adopted positive routines, and that parents responded more calmly, firmly and kindly to children’s challenging behaviors. Leadership skills and attention to personal care also improved.

In addition, many families chose to continue with the monthly activities or to repeat the series. With repeating families, staff observed even greater levels of family cohesiveness and communication and fewer disagreements between parents and children.

Partners included:

Public Value Statement

Based on results from a 2003 Center for Disease Control and Prevention study of domestic violence-related medical costs (including ambulances, hospital stays, physical therapy and mental health services) for women 18 and older, Heart & Shield helped save at least $838-$3,062 per prevented rape, $816-$3,682 per prevented physical assault and $294-$690 per prevented stalking.

Nationally, the cost of domestic violence in 1995 was $5.8 billion for medical and mental healthcare, and $1.8 billion was lost in paid and household productivity. When updated to 2003 dollars, domestic violence costs exceeded $8.3 billion, which included $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives.



adults and youth completed the third part of the program since 2015.


community education presentations given in 2017.


domestic violence-related medical costs saved per prevented stalking, physical assault or rape.

“I am so blessed to have all these wonderful moms, leaders and teachers come into myself and my children’s lives and help us start healing.”

-Program participant

“We are definitely more communicative. When we feel something is [wrong], we are able to problem solve. We share affection more on a daily [basis]. We’re more productive, more understanding, and we’re better listeners.”

-Parent during a program exit interview

Contact: Jill Baker-Tingey, 775-738-1721

Children, Youth and Families Programs

Programs Program Information

4-H Afterschool

All children face risks as they grow and develop, but children who live in low-income housing or are homeless may be at higher risk for participating in risky behaviors. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed the 4-H After School Club (ASC) to teach children basic life skills including math, reading, science, positive communication, goal setting, self-responsibility, decision-making and good nutrition. Youth who have these life skills are less likely to participate in risky behaviors.

4-H Youth Development

4-H is a community of young people across America learning leadership, citizenship and life skills.

All 4 Kids

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s All 4 Kids: Healthy, Happy, Active, Fit program is an interdisciplinary approach to addressing child obesity. Developed by Cooperative Extension faculty from maternal/child nutrition, exercise physiology and child development, the All 4 Kids program helps children meet the Nevada Pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) Standards while encouraging preschool children and families to practice healthy eating habits and be active every day.


University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) developed Bootstraps, a high-risk youth program that helps teens return to school and/or gain meaningful work.

Calming the Waters: Learning to Manage Western Water Conflict

Conflict has surrounded the Truckee, Carson and Walker River Basins for decades. Key issues include historical use on tribal lands, historical and current water rights, threats to water quality, and wildlife habitat protection. This program teaches youth about Nevada’s water issues and helps them develop the skills needed to address future water conflicts.

Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A Workforce Readiness Program

The Career Edge: Teens Taking Charge of Their Future! A workforce readiness program for high school students focused on skill development for workplace and job success. Career Edge helps high school students prepare to get their first "paying" job while working toward their dream job or career. Career Edge provides information and training on interview skills, résumé development, filling out applications, finding job leads and selecting appropriate clothing for the workplace. In addition, many "soft skills" needed in the workplace such as decision-making, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership are integrated throughout the program.

Churchill County Community Readiness Network

Nevada communities need rapid access to information during an emergency. In an effort to enhance community preparedness, safety and available resources and by using GPS and GIS mapping, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth and adult leaders in Churchill County are working with community emergency managers to address evacuation and shelter mapping.

Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

Exploring Your True Colors: Building an Effective Team & Team Development Course

Team Development Course

Family Storyteller Literacy Program

National award-winning Family Storyteller is a literacy program aimed at encouraging and training parents to play a vital role in the literacy development of their children. Developed by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), KNPB-TV, the Washoe County libraries and Washoe County School District, the statewide program creates an opportunity for parents and young children to interact around literacy and language activities. Family Storyteller is designed especially for families that may have limited language skills and few children’s books at home.

Fun To Play

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Fun To Play program targets families where, due to the young age, inexperience or limited resources of the parents, young children are placed at-risk for developmental delays and later school difficulties. Fun To Play is a series of weekly infant/child sessions aimed at improving the parenting skills of young parents by increasing the amount of learning activities and interaction they provide their children.

Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program

Young girls making collages with magazine pictures

Keeping Kids Safe: Recognizing, Reporting and Responding to Child Maltreatment

young girl sitting at desk in empty classroom

Little Books and Little Cooks

Children scooping soil from a wheelbarrow into a carton

Nevada State GEAR UP

Partners in Parenting

Partners in Parenting promotes positive parenting and child health and development, thereby preventing child abuse and other poor childhood outcomes.

Project MAGIC

Project MAGIC is an innovative, collaborative program designed to help juvenile offenders leave the criminal justice system and become productive members of society. While participating in the program, young people ages 12 to 18 learn: positive communication skills, team building, problem solving and decision making, self-responsibility, conflict resolution, aspiration building and goal setting. Youth also select and conduct a service project designed to benefit their community. Parent sessions include the same life skills.

Youth for the Quality Care of Animals

4-H members showing pigs