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Sonshine Community Services announced on Monday that it is creating a new intensive therapy program for children affected by domestic abuse. (CBC)

A Calgary women's shelter is establishing a new program to help children who have been abused or witnessed it.

The new centre will provide its clients with intensive psychological therapy and a full-time day care, said Sonshine Community Services executive director Joy Johnson-Green.

Currently in Calgary, children who have fled violent homes with their mothers can generally get access to an hour or two of therapy per week, she said.

The new program at Sonshine will be much more intense.

"There are certainly therapeutic programs for children who've witnessed domestic violence they're all over the city. They're all over the country. But you go to them and then you go home," Johnson-Green said.

Canadians are just starting to face how trauma in a child's first few years can torment their whole lives, said University of Calgary social work professor Jeanette Waegemakers Schiff.

"Unfortunately when children are concerned, we still lag very far behind other countries in having the right kind of resources to help our kids who are most vulnerable," she said.

That’s a particular shame since therapy can be more effective in children than adults, she added.

"If a child has any kind of emotional upset or trauma the sooner you're able to help the child the faster the child is going to both heal and develop any resiliency towards any problems.

The new centre is expected to be up and running by next year.