Abuse can be scary for kids, parents and other family members. Children who may have been harmed come to the child advocacy center to talk about the abuse and/or get medical care. It is a safe place for children to receive help. Walworth County Child Advocacy Center staff do case reviews, and provide expert court testimony and professional consultations.
Walworth County Child Advocacy Center staff have extensive experience working with children and families.
Advocate: The advocate offers support to children and families both during appointments at the child advocacy center and after through follow up care. The advocate helps children and families access resources as well as understand the different processes involved in the case.
Forensic interviewer: The forensic interviewer is specially trained to talk with children regarding abuse allegations during a video recorded interview. The forensic interviewer follows a set of guidelines to gather detailed information from children. This information can then be used by law enforcement, child protective services, and/or the court system, which helps to limit the number of times a child has to talk about the abuse.
Medical provider: The medical provider evaluates children for abuse concerns as well as necessary follow up care. The medical providers has years of experience and special training specific to examining children who may have been abused.
Therapist: Therapists do assessment and follow-up that focuses on children’s emotional response to what has happened. They help teach families how to help their children heal.
Other Professionals at the Child Advocacy Center
Law Enforcement: Police officers observe interviews and do necessary follow up work to gather evidence and fully investigate allegations of child abuse that may result in criminal court proceedings.
Child Protective Services (CPS): CPS workers observe interviews and do necessary follow up to ensure the safety of children. CPS workers also support children and families, making necessary referrals to meet their needs.
District Attorney’s Office: A lawyer from the district attorney’s office may observe the interview in order to determine whether charges can be filed.
These are the basic steps of a child abuse investigation:
- Someone reports suspicion of abuse to authorities.
- The authorities respond and begin a preliminary investigation.
- If appropriate, a video-recorded interview is done with the child at the Child Advocacy Center.
- If appropriate, a medical exam is done.
- A team of professionals will meet to talk about the case. They decide what else needs to be done. Doctors, nurses, prosecutors, police officers and social workers may be a part of the team.
- A police officer and/or child protective services worker will continue the assessment and investigation.
- The case may be referred to criminal court or children’s court. Other plans also may be made to manage the case.
A forensic interview gives children a safe, comfortable place to talk about being harmed or hurt. A specially trained interviewer gathers information from children following a set of guidelines so there is no additional harm caused to the children and the integrity of the investigation is maintained. Specific details about what happened are gathered. The interview is video-recorded interview to memorialize the children’s statement, which is often used during the legal process.
The Medical Evaluation
Just as doctors talk to patients when they are sick, a medical professional will talk to children about their medical history and any concerns or worries. A physical exam is done in a gentle manner. It is done by a medical professional who has special training and experience examining children for possible abuse. The exam for physical and sexual abuse or neglect begins as a regular head-to-toe checkup. If sexual abuse is suspected, a more thorough exam may be needed. Most children, who have been sexually abused, even with a history of penetration, have normal exams. The team does not rely on the exam alone to determine if abuse happened. The reason children have this type of exam is to help them know they are okay. Doctors and nurses who specialize in this field understand that many children and teens have worries about the results of abuse to their bodies, even if they can’t talk about them. The medical provider will take the time to discuss this with them, which often can be the first step in healing. Some families want their children to be examined by their family doctor. This field of medicine is a real specialty. Most pediatricians and family practitioners send their patients to a center with the expertise of the Child Advocacy Center.
Walworth County Child Advocacy Center EARNS ACCREDITATION
Headings and language in this section were revised…please make note
FROM NATIONAL CHILDREN’S ALLIANCE
National Children’s Alliance recognizes the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center for its delivery of high quality and effective services to child abuse victims through accreditation
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin program, Walworth County Child Advocacy has been awarded accreditation by National Children’s Alliance following an extensive application and site review process. As the accrediting agency for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) across the country, National Children’s Alliance awards various levels of accreditation and membership to centers responding to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient, and put the needs of child victims of abuse first. Accreditation is the highest level of membership with National Children’s Alliance and denotes excellence in service provision. As an Accredited Member of National Children’s Alliance, the Walworth County Child Advocacy is dedicated to providing comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.
National Children’s Alliance awards Accredited Membership based on a CAC’s compliance with 10 national standards of accreditation to ensure effective, efficient and consistent delivery of services to child abuse victims. National Children’s Alliance updated these standards in 2010 to reflect the most recent evidence-based practices in the field of child abuse intervention and prevention. According to these standards, Accredited Members must utilize a functioning and effective Multidisciplinary Team approach to work collaboratively in child abuse investigation, prosecution, and treatment. National Children’s Alliance also considers standards regarding a center’s cultural competency and diversity, forensic interviews, victim support and advocacy, medical evaluation, therapeutic intervention, and child focused setting.
“As an organization/team of individuals dedicated to responding to child abuse, we recognize the importance of accreditation from National Children’s Alliance and supporting the Multidisciplinary Team approach. Accreditation not only validates our organization’s proven effective approach to responding to allegations of child abuse, but also provides consistency across the child advocacy center movement as a whole,” said Paula Hocking, manager of the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center.
“Walworth County Child Advocacy Center is to be commended for its excellent work serving victims of child abuse. As the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country, our goal is to ensure that every victim of child abuse has access to high quality services that result from professional collaboration,” remarked Teresa Huizar, Executive Director of National Children’s Alliance.