Taking Shelter with Literacy (TSWL)

Program snapshot

Age group: Not age specific

Gender: Female only

Population served: Families; Victims of crime

Topic: Family (domestic) violence/child maltreatment; Violence against women and girls

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Taking Shelter with Literacy project incorporated promising practice to increase literacy for women’s shelters in Alberta in order to reduce re-victimization of families who have experienced violence. The project provided an opportunity to work with shelters to expand their programs and resources that reflect and address the many literacy and learning needs of Alberta’s shelter clients, increasing the ability of shelters to positively address the needs of these individuals and their families. This complemented the work that shelters were already doing by enhancing current approaches to reduce violence and criminal activity and ensure safer communities.


The main goals of the Taking Shelter with Literacy project are to:

  • Stop the cycle of family violence, by offering preventative and enriched support services to both clients and staff of women's shelters and other organizations serving victims of family violence;
  • Offer strategies to break the intergenerational cycle of violence; and
  • Improve the literacy and parenting skills of shelter clients and their children.


The appropriate clientele for the Taking Shelter with Literacy project are women and children who are looking for literacy-based parenting resources, training in literacy awareness, parenting and literacy skills, and preventing the impact of violence on the ability to learn and change.

Core Components

The project included the following programs:

  • Parenting After Violence Sessions (through an informal delivery model which focuses on creating comfort for the learner);
  • Library Implementation (of positive learning environments to influence children to start their path towards life-long learning, and improving their success in school); and
  • Literacy Kit Delivery (to change clients’ skill levels and knowledge of literacy, parenting, and life skills).

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Limited information on this topic.
  • Partnerships: Limited information on this topic.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Taking Shelter with Literacy project has been implemented in Calgary (Alberta) and supported 20 shelters and 44 other related community agencies from 2011 to 2014. Over 1,237 parents and children benefited from Parenting After Violence Sessions, Library Implementation, and Literacy Kit Delivery.

Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Taking Shelter with Literacy project. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The ratio for the Taking Shelter with Literacy project is 3.36:1, which demonstrates that for every dollar invested in the program, an average of $3.36 in social value was created; and
  • By providing women and children with the tools necessary to increase their literacy, parenting skills, employability, self-sufficiency, confidence, and skills in healthy relationships, Taking Shelter with Literacy is reducing future costs of dropping out of high school, youth court processes, behavioural education, and the costs associated with abuse survivors, while creating value through income generation and enrolment in further education.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Taking Shelter with Literacy. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries  

For more information on this program, contact:

Literacy Alberta
Elaine Cairns
Telephone: (403)250-5034
E-mail: ecairns@furthered.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-13
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: