Claudia Fairbanks-Kerr Children's Advocacy Center
The core of our mission is to speak for, to help, and to protect the most vulnerable members of our community.
What is a Children’s Advocacy Center?
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is a model that supports a compassionate, coordinated community response to allegations of sexual or physical abuse. This means that when a child discloses abuse, instead of having to go from agency to agency telling their story several times, the child is brought to a friendly, neutral facility where their needs come first. Highly specialized staff will facilitate a forensic interview; and if needed, a medical examination. The family advocate will provide information and crisis counseling for parents/caregivers. It is through the Children's Advocacy Center that families will be provided information regarding case tracking, referrals for services, and support from our compassionate and dedicated staff.
were conducted in 2016
Forensic Interviews for Suspected Child Sexual Abuse Victims:
The purpose of the CAC forensic interview is to obtain information from a child regarding allegations of abuse. Forensic interviews are facilitated in a manner that is developmentally and culturally sensitive, unbiased, fact-finding, and legally sound. The forensic interview provides critical evidence for both criminal and civil child protection investigations. Information from the interviews may also identify other victims, assist professionals responsible for assessing risk, reveal safety needs of children and families, and facilitate case management decisions.
Child Sexual Abuse Medical Examinations:
The Children’s Advocacy Center has a medical doctor on staff that specializes in facilitating sexual abuse examinations for children who are victims of sexual abuse. A medical evaluation holds an important place in the multi-disciplinary assessment of child abuse. An accurate and complete history is essential in making medical diagnoses and determining appropriate treatment of child abuse. Because many children are familiar with the helping role of doctors and nurses, they may disclose information to our medical personnel that they might not share with investigators.
Child Sexual and Severe Physical Abuse Case Reviews
The Multi-Disciplinary Team meets at the Child Abuse Council once a month. This team is made up of law enforcement, Children’s Protective Services workers, prosecutors, medical doctor and others from the community involved in the case. The strength of the multi-disciplinary team is the divergent perspective and unique expertise that each team member brings to the group as a whole. These cases are discussed in detail by the team members allowing them to share information, update the case status, and discuss how to proceed with the case. The main objective being to do what is best for the child.
Non-Offending Parent Support Group/Therapy
The focus is to provide intervention and support to assist the non-offending caregiver. The objective is to educate the non-offending caregiver to understand the emotional aftermath. Therapy and support groups enable and empower the non-offending caregiver to confront the issues of sexual abuse and begin to advocate for their child(ren) and their needs.
Therapy for Child Victims
The Child Abuse Council of Muskegon County offers therapy to children who have suffered a traumatic experience such as sexual abuse. A traumatic event can significantly disrupt the self-concept of children, the way they view the world, and their behavior. The Child Abuse Council Children's Advocacy Center uses trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is an evidence based treatment approach that helps children, adolescents and their caregivers overcome the trauma-related experience. It is designed to reduce negative emotional and behavioral responses following child sexual abuse, domestic violence, traumatic loss, and other traumatic events.
Court Preparation and Support
Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused frequently face the prospect of going to court. Although legal action can be an important step in helping children and families move forward and recover from the trauma of child sexual abuse, it can also add to the stress of coping with life after the abuse. The Children's Advocacy Center helps the family by educating them about the role of the legal system, common concerns about legal action, and suggested strategies to cope with the legal process at different stages.
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention and Safety Education
Effective programs seek to educate children about the signs of abusive relationships that are observable well before any sexual contact occurs. Such programs encourage children to communicate concerns about relationships to their parent(s) or another trusted adult. Sexual Abuse Prevention is discussed in terms of safety concern and the rules that keep us safe.
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