A Visit from Washington, D.C.

It’s not often you get a visit from Washington, DC – but we did Friday!

In addition to our own close relationship with the United Way of Ventura County, we have developed a positive partnership with leadership from United Way Worldwide, headquartered in Washington, DC.  This has developed over the last two years as 2-1-1 Ventura has been increasingly involved in national 2-1-1 development efforts. Why you ask? Well, the big ideas and big investment money is at the Federal level, and alongside our own local United Way, and United Ways of California, we believe this is an opportunity to get Federal dollars to flow in support of 2-1-1’s everywhere, including to Ventura!


United Way Worldwide has created a new VP position dedicated to their national development commitment to 2-1-1. So on Friday, Eric Harrison, our United 211CardWay Ventura County CEO, Pete Manzo, CEO of United Ways of California and I were pleased to have Russ Paulson, 2-1-1 VP at United Way Worldwide visit our 2-1-1 Ventura operations, in his first three weeks on the job! This speaks to the growing significance that California 2-1-1’s and our local work in particular has in the national dialogues to develop 2-1-1’s across the country. We all see the amazing value in developing the 2-1-1 system to help support many, many national efforts – think homelessness, health care reform, prison reform, poverty, domestic violence, youth development, etc. The beauty of 2-1-1 is that it can be part of the infrastructure for any and all of these issues. At Interface we see the real benefit of joining with other 2-1-1’s nationally and across Canada to realize some of the far reaching benefits that 2-1-1 can and will bring to our national health and human service system.

At Interface we see the real benefit of joining with other 2-1-1’s nationally and across Canada to realize some of the far reaching benefits that 2-1-1 can and will bring to our national health and human service system.

Join me in thanking our local United Way of Ventura County for being one of our enduring, founding partners, representing investments and leadership that is mirrored nationally by United Way Worldwide for the betterment of people in need. We’re proud to be given United Way’s national attention, and proud to represent Ventura in bringing innovation, high quality and integrity to the national 2-1-1 table as we all plan for an exciting future.

We’re all better together!

Erik Sternad, Executive Director, Interface Children & Family Services

Ventura County Credit Union partners with Interface Children & Family Services

VCCU helps to raise more than $70,000 by hosting nonprofit’s traveling art exhibit

Interface Love Is Brewing - HR-8

VENTURA, CA (June 28, 2016) — Ventura County Credit Union (VCCU) partnered with Interface Children & Family Services — a nonprofit that assists those who suffer from abuse, domestic violence, family conflict and mental health issues — in support of the “Project Hope” art exhibit. Developed to provide domestic violence victims with the opportunity to use art as therapeutic expression, the exhibit creates a linkage that inspires the community to support these victims.

The exhibit was revealed at Interface’s third annual “Love is Brewing in Paris Champagne Luncheon & Tea” presented by VCCU. At the event, elected officials, law enforcement, and corporate and philanthropic leaders donned tea party attire, sipped sparkling wine, perused auction items and had an exclusive opportunity to view the artwork — which was accompanied by individual stories of survival and triumph from the domestic violence victims. More than $70,000 in funds were raised and granted to Interface through this event.

Interface Love Is Brewing - HR-28

Viva Sabbia Rosa (Live Desert Rose)   by DV Support Group Client

 What It Means To Me…

I am free of the shame, hurt, guilt, pain and confusion I lived through while in an abusive relationship.  Interface has educated me on the cycle of abuse. The group helped me meet many survivors and taught me the red flags of an abusive relationship, so I can make better choices for my future. I am deep, signifies risks in my past which are composed of 50% amazing memories and 50% painful abuse; this has shaped the woman I am today. I had to dig into my roots to find the broken part within myself in order to learn how to fix it for a better future for myself and my children. Interface helped me identify the cycle of abuse that has been passed down from generation to generation of in my family. It has been scary to admit some of my poor choices and the things my kids were exposed to, I am ashamed of for putting them in those situations. Interface has helped me become a stronger woman, I am now able to put all those things behind me and avoid falling back into the  cycle of abuse.”

“We’re honored to be a part of Project Hope,” said Linda Rossi, chief administrative officer of VCCU. “We feel compelled to help these victims any way we can, and we hope that displaying their art at our branches will help bolster awareness of this important cause among the Ventura County community.”

Interface provides abuse victims with a 24-hour emergency response team, 2-1-1 information and referral service, counseling programs, and emergency and transitional shelters. The organization also offers free child abuse and teen dating violence prevention programs for thousands of school-age children, parents and educators.

“Our comprehensive approach gives us the opportunity to be a critical safety net for the community, addressing a variety of issues for victims and helping to prevent family violence and child abuse in the first

place,” said Catherine L. Kort, fund development and marketing director of Interface Children & Family Services. “We’d like to thank VCCU for their extensive role in helping Project Hope pursue its goal of educating and engaging the community in solutions aimed at reducing domestic violence in Ventura County.”

To learn more about Interface’s domestic violence programs or inquire about hosting a Project Hope art exhibit, visit www.icfs.org/DVChampion or contact Julie Harvey at 805-485-6114, ext. 628.


Interface Love Is Brewing - HR-24

First Steps by Agnes

 What It Means To Me…

“I am so grateful that the program gave my kids a safe and loving environment to live. This simple footprint remind me where my   youngest son had his first walk. We are so blessed to be a part of the  program and we will forever cherish it in our hearts. Thank you.

About Ventura County Credit Union

Ventura County Credit Union was chartered in 1950. It is the largest credit union headquartered in Ventura County, with seven offices (and a new Oxnard branch on the way), more than 70,000 members and over $700 million in total assets. VCCU offers a complete line of loans, federally insured savings, 24-hour electronic access services and more. Call 1-800-339-0496 or visit www.vccuonline.net for more information.

About Interface Children & Family Services

Interface Children & Family Services is Ventura County and the surrounding community’s most comprehensive nonprofit social services safety net. Our mission is to strengthen children, families and individuals to be safe, healthy and thriving. Founded in 1973, Interface works to prevent and heal the effects of child abuse, neglect and abandonment; domestic violence; family conflict and mental health issues. We have 24 distinct programs representing five major service areas, including youth and family strengthening services, mental health, family violence intervention, justice-involved families, and 2-1-1 information and referral across all socioeconomic levels.

Interface operates our region’s most comprehensive domestic violence program, including shelter, support and counseling. The 2-1-1 Information and Referral service, a 24-hour comprehensive helpline for available no-and-low cost county support services, was the first 2-1-1 in our state, developed by Interface.

Serving approximately 24,000 local individuals annually, plus assisting 150,000 people across the state in need through the 2-1-1 Helpline, Interface offers effective solutions to the urgent needs of families and individuals in crisis. This important work is sustained through donations and grants from individuals and organizations, as well as by the work of dedicated volunteers and staff. For more information, please contact Interface Children & Family Services at 4001 Mission Oaks Blvd, Suite I, Camarillo, CA 93012 by telephone at 805-485-6114 or visit www.icfs.org.

Commander Monica McGrath To Be Honored With Domestic Violence Champion for Change Award

Interface Children & Family Services will announce the launch of Ventura County’s Domestic Violence Initiative at our upcoming 3rd Annual Love is Brewing Champagne Luncheon and Tea taking place in the gorgeous gardens of the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village on Saturday,May 14 from 11am – 2pm.

Love is Brewing Flyer 04-21-2016

Love is Brewing attendees will enjoy a Paris-themed Champagne Reception sponsored by Neiman Marcus Topanga Canyon. The event will also include the art exhibit, Project Hope to showcase artwork created by Interface clients who have been empowered to live a violence-free life. Live authentic Parisian cafe music will be provided by Woodland Hills accordionist, Al Di Cicco, featured on Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class” and Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” A special silent and live auction presented by United Agencies Inc. Insurance will also be held for an opportunity to win specialty gifts and one of-a-kind experiences.

 The Love is Brewing event will be an inspiring day that serves to energize and empower all to say “no more” and to take action to remove the shame and stigma associated with domestic violence.

Comedienne and motivational speaker Amy Ashton will emcee and Commander Monica McGrath will be our keynote speaker addressing the unacceptably high rates of domestic violence in our region and what we can all do to be “champions of change.”

Domestic Violence Champion for Change 2016 Award Recipient Commander Monica McGrath

MonicaMcGrathIn addition, Love is Brewing’s 2016 Presenting Sponsor, Ventura County Credit Union, will be honoring our keynote speaker, Commander McGrath with Interface’s First “Domestic Violence Champion for Change” award at the event. Commander McGrath, a member of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office since 1987, will be recognized for her long-standing commitment of being a spokesperson and community role model for Domestic Violence change in our region. Her expansive career includes work in the County’s Detention facility and serving in various roles as a detective (sexual assault investigator in Thousand Oaks), in background investigations, academy training officer, watch commander, and the acting Chief of Police in the contract City of Fillmore. In February 2015, Monica was selected as the Chief of Police for the contract city of Camarillo.

Love is Brewing, will mark the start of outreach to members of the public who are essential to the prevention and interruption of the cycle of violence that occurs all too often behind the closed doors of the homes of friends and neighbors in our shared community.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Interface Children & Family Service’s Family Violence Intervention Programs that deliver comprehensive support to prevent, interrupt and end the cycle of violence within families throughout the Ventura County region. Interface provides a broad array of programs and services for victims of domestic violence, including a 24-hour emergency response team, emergency and transitional shelters, and My Body Belongs to Me and Teen Dating Violence Prevention programs provided free of charge to thousands of school-age children, parents and educators annually.

This event is made possible by the generous support of Ventura County Credit Union, Neiman Marcus Topanga Canyon, United Agencies Inc. Insurance, Sharon Bass, Rabobank, Bill & Elise Kearney, Karen & Thomas Pecht, Pacific Coast Business Times, Wells Fargo Financial Advisors, Kaiser Permanente, Wagner Financial, Women in Corporate Growth, Ron & Judi Polito, Judy & Don Diaz, Bernzott Capital Advisors, Thomas K. Duncan, D.O. & Jacquelyn D. Ruffin, JD, Nancy & Spencer Garrett, Julie Harvey & Mieke Miller, Paul & Terri McGray, and Jaguar/Land Rover of Ventura.

Tickets are $125, Tables are $1,250 and sponsorships are still available. For reservations or for more information, visit http://www.icfs.org or contact Julie Harvey at 805-485-6114, Ext. 628 or jharvey@icfs.org.

We’re 43 Years Old Today!

There’s one advantage to having your birthday on tax day… you never forget it! 43 years ago, a handful of community leaders got together to start Interface Children & Family Services. The name was slightly different, the hair styles in 1973 and the wide lapels were certainly different, but what is exactly the same as today is the unwavering commitment to serve kids and families in crisis across our region, and to serve them with compassion, smarts and determination.


Together over all these years we’ve lifted the lives of hundreds of thousands of our neighbors – strengthening children families and communities to be safe, healthy and thriving!

Happy 43rd Interface Facebook

 Happy Birthday to Interface!

Thanks for being part of our team on this important journey.

Erik Sternad, Executive Director

Interface Children & Family Services

Commit to Prevent

PLEDGE TO WEAR BLUE on April 8th to show your commitment to keep kids safe!

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month; in support, Interface invites you to WEAR BLUE on Friday, April 8th, 2016! On this day, individuals and organizations across America will band together to make a visible commitment to preventing child abuse and supporting strong families and healthy children throughout the Nation.

Go Blue Twitter

One person can make a difference, and it can start with you! On April 8th, WEAR BLUE anywhere – to work, to school, a community event, the gym, and even at home. Invite your friends, family, & co-workers to WEAR BLUE too! It doesn’t matter if it’s a blue shirt or blue suede shoes, the unified, community-wide act of wearing blue will help raise awareness that child abuse is preventable.


1. Wear Blue on April 8th!
2. Share your commitment with family, friends and co-workers and encourage them to WEAR BLUE too!
3. Take a picture of yourself, your group, class, or company wearing blue and share it on our Facebook (and your page as well), share it on Twitter, and e-mail it to jharvey@icfs.org. Use the #GOBLUE, #WearBlueForKids and #NCAPM2016 hashtags.

In the spring of 1989, a grandmother from Virginia began the blue ribbon campaign as a tribute to her grandson, a three-year old who died at the hands of his mother’s abusive boyfriend. Since that time, concerned citizens all over the country have worn blue as a symbol of the need to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Interface is proudly one of our communities’ leading agencies preventing child abuse every day of the year. Let’s show our collective spirit on Friday!

Family Violence Awareness: Breaking the Cycle with Knowledge



To have awareness means, “to have knowledge or enlighten.” As a domestic violence (DV) counselor and community educator, I am drawn to the word “enlighten.” Domestic violence can be a disturbing topic to discuss, as we try to understand what victims have or are experiencing, especially when children are involved. Sharing information about how DV can affect children can help us begin to take steps toward prevention and early intervention for victims of abuse.

What is domestic violence? The U.S. Department of Justice defines DV as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats that influence and harm another person. See more information at Power and Control Wheel and Children Coping with Family Violence Wheel.

When Domestic violence is happening in a home where children are present, not only are the two people within the relationship being affected, but children are being victimized as well.

What are the facts? The UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children estimates that 275 million children worldwide are exposed to violence in the home. (Futures without Violence, the facts on Children and Domestic Violence, 2008).

If there's violence in the home kids get pictureHow are children exposed to family violence? Children may see a parent or caretaker assaulted or demeaned, hear loud conflict and violence, see the aftermath (e.g., injuries), learn what happened to a parent (whether hospitalization occurred or arrest was made), or physically or sexually abused. This exposure has a significant effect on a child’s emotional, social and physical health. Children may feel fear, distress, anxiety, self-blame, guilt, anger, grief, confusion, worry, embarrassment, and hope for rescue.

In an attempt to manage these intense emotions, children may use unhealthy coping strategies that may provoke long-term consequences continuing into adult life.

How does this affect our society? Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Domestic Violence Facts, 2007).

How can we help stop the cycle of abuse? Helping a victim is among the most effective strategies to help her or his children. We can do that by offering support to victims of abuse through referring them to agencies in our local community for legal help and shelters, reporting suspected child abuse to Child Protective Services, or contacting the authorities, if you witness a victim being abused.

Sharing knowledge can “light a candle” to help victims know where to go for safety, support, and healing.

Originally Posted on January 9, 2016 for Strategies Blog

Written by Laura Tomlinson, Child Abuse Prevention Specialist
Family Violence Intervention Services
Interface Children & Family Services

About Strategies Central Region:

Our vision is a world in which children are cherished, families are strong and engaged in their communities and communities thrive.  We work towards this vision by building the ability of community-based organizations, networks, partnerships and public agencies to work effectively and compassionately with and for children and families. We provide lively and informative trainings, expert facilitation, individualized technical assistance, strategic planning and the practical application of research and best practices to community-based organizations and public agencies.

Our specialty areas of practice are:

  • Strengthening Families
  • Family Resource Centers
  • Supporting Father Involvement
  • Network Development
  • The Family Development Matrix
  • Child Abuse Prevention

While we provide services throughout California, we are proud to be a part of Interface and to serve our home community of Ventura County. Strategies is a statewide alliance of three training and technical assistance programs that serve the public and non-profit sectors.

Please visit the Strategies web page for a full calendar of our trainings, to join our online community, current publications and a wealth of other resources.


What IF We Were Wildly Successful in Changing Hundreds of Lives Every Day…

I was touched to receive a signed “IF” from my staff the other day as I celebrated 9 years with Interface. So, I put it up in my office as a reminder to me and everyone who visits me that Interface is all about challenging ourselves and our community to do more for those in need around us.

Erik - 9th Anniversary at ICFS

For 43 years Interface has been challenging ourselves to ask the tough questions . . .

What IF we stopped child abuse before it happens?

What IF we turned the tide of domestic violence in our region?

What IF we prevented young adults from becoming homeless?

What IF everyone got the help they needed by calling 2-1-1?

What If

Part of the excitement and terror of this work is that there is always more that can be done, more that “must” be done, and always more that we want to do for kids and families. Interface rarely shrinks from a challenge, and I’m grateful to work with each of you – a team that asks the hard questions and pushes ourselves to go for big solutions – together.

 “What IF we were wildly successful in changing hundreds of lives every day…” Oh yeah, we do that.

– Erik Sternad, Executive Director