Wynona’s House names new director of prevention to lead new project

Wynona’s House Child Advocacy Center of Newark recently announced its new director of prevention, Luz Santiago. Santiago brings a wealth of experience to her role, possessing 25 years of child advocacy experience.

Wynona’s House recently launched a new project called Prevention-By-Design, which Santiago will lead. This new community-based prevention program will improve outcomes for children and families in Essex County by better utilizing protective factors, identifying and reducing risks to children, and increasing education. Community members are a central part of the program’s planning, development, implementation and evaluation process.

In July, Wynona’s House will select two Essex County communities in which to begin implementing the program.

“The whole point of prevention is empowerment, at every level, not only at the point of the
adverse childhood experience, but also for families at risk or even when there is no risk, when the risk is very low,” Santiago said. “So education and empowerment, those buckets get filled in that order, and it starts with the partnerships, renewing them and making them stronger.”

In order to empower families, Santiago will work with the team at Wynona’s House to identify partnerships and community spaces such as schools, recreation centers and places of worship to host orientation events and community forums.

The team will also take into consideration the stigmas associated with revealing family issues and use empowering language to help families address them.

“Isolation is very disempowering; brushing things under the carpet and maintaining a façade will only exacerbate problems,” Santiago explains. “Partnering within our community, within our systems, we can start trusting them again because we’re involved with them and they’ll represent us better. It builds resilience, and it builds a sense of safety. So, even if/when something bad does happen, the resilience and the partnership is already there. And I think that is going to create higher opportunities of healing and protection for the community at home.”

Sen. Wynona Lipman, the namesake of Wynona’s House, would have turned 100 in
November. In November, Wynona’s House will be holding a special event to mark the
launch and progress of the Prevention-By-Design project.