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As a non-profit, our services are offered completely free of charge to victims of abuse. Our services are supported by the gracious support of outside funding and donations.
Report it. If you see Physical Child Abuse, Child Neglect, or the sexual abuse of a child, report it to the authorities. Local law enforcement is a great place to start, or you could contact the Division of Family and Children Services +1 855-422-4453. You may also elect to call anonymously. They will take all your information and handle the case from there.
The Child Advocacy Center is a safe, child friendly location for children to come speak with trained interviewers or one of our medical providers. We know this can be an anxious time for you and your family. When we are able, one of our child advocates will be calling you before the interview or medical evaluation to answer any of your questions. But you don’t have to wait. If you have questions and need answers, please call and ask to talk to the advocate assigned to your child’s case. We would rather you call than worry. At the Child Advocacy Center we work with a team of professionals from law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services. When you come to the Child Advocacy Center, you will be able to meet the professionals working on your child’s case and ask them further questions. While you’re talking to the team, one of our advocates will be showing your child(ren) around the Child Advocacy Center. They will get to see the room where they will be talking. If they have questions or worries, they can ask their advocate anything.
No. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation. Most of us working at the Child Advocacy Center are parents just like you. We understand how being in the same room with our child may influence what the child says or doesn’t say. If our child doesn’t answer quickly enough, we may answer for them. Whenever we have made exceptions to the rule, it just doesn’t work. It’s hard for us as moms and dads to sit quietly or not influence the interview with a concerned look or an emotional reaction. Parents are also not allowed in the observation room during their child’s interview. We have different interview rooms and to ensure confidentiality, only professionals are allowed in the observation room. All of the interviews at the Child Advocacy Center are recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened. The DVD recording of the interview is turned over to law enforcement as part of evidence in a potential criminal case.
You might tell your child: “We are going to the Child Advocacy Center. It is a special place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
Your child will be talking to one of our trained forensic interviewers. They have attended basic and advanced training on how to talk to children about difficult subjects. It’s important that any details about the alleged abuse be coming from the child. Our interviewers are trained to not ask suggestive questions and to move at a pace that is comfortable for your child. They never force a child to talk to them. We also offer extended forensic interviews, which allows the child to come back over four visits to talk to our interviewer. The same questioning strategies are used as in a regular interview, but we recognize that some children need more time to feel safe and comfortable with this environment and with us. So we just slow the whole process down for them, but we’re not asking them the same questions over and over. If you think your child might benefit from this extended model, be sure to let us know.
You will be meeting with your child advocate. They want to answer any questions you have. If they don’t know the answer, it is their job to find out. They will listen to your worries and concerns and provide resources to help you through a difficult time. Our advocates are not therapists, but they can listen and get you the help you need.
You will be able to talk to members of the investigation team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns. Remember, your child’s interview is just the first step in the investigative process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. There may be physical evidence that needs to be photographed or collected. The alleged offender will be interviewed. So, at this point in the process it’s often difficult to predict what will happen. All of the information will be turned over to the county attorney who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your advocate will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact your advocate. Parents and children are often worried about whether they will have to testify in court. It’s really way too early to know. If this happens, our advocate will be with you every step of the way and will even provide a special Court School to help your child feel more comfortable.
Based on the allegation or the interview, the members of the investigative team may decide a medical evaluation is needed. For many children, knowing their bodies are okay is a huge relief and if seeing one of our medical providers will make them less worried or anxious then be sure to let us know. That is always an option.
Some children do and some don’t. Every child is unique in how they cope. Some may not need counseling now, but will need counseling down the road. Maybe you need counseling more than your child to help you cope with everything that has happened. Your advocate will listen and provide referral information. What we do know is that children who are believed and protected from continued abuse are able to do quite well. It is very important to your child’s recovery that you work with a therapist specifically trained and experienced in trauma and abuse. This is a field with special expertise. In most instances, it is important to provide your child with an opportunity to talk with a professional. Too often parents just want their child to “forget” about the abuse and “move on.” That’s easier said than done. Counseling can help your child and family through this very difficult time. It’s best to address issues and concerns now, rather than years later.
Yes! We also serve developmentally delayed adults.
In case of suspected child abuse, please call the Division of Family and Children Services +1 855-422-4453 or call 911 to reach local law enforcement. For help, counseling, guidance, or for more information, you can call us 24/7 at 678-715-1196.
If you believe a child is in danger, please call 911 immediately.