One of the most important services a Children’s Advocacy Center provides is conducting forensic interviews for Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services Investigations.
A forensic interview is a structured interview done in a child friendly environment. They are completed by trained forensic interviewers in order to ensure that the best possible interview is achieved in these situations. A forensic interview is important because the interviewer is trained to use non-leading techniques during an interview in order to preserve the validity of a child’s outcry. This is important for both Law Enforcement investigations as well as Child Protective Services cases. Having a forensic interview done also allows for the child to only be interviewed one time while law enforcement and CPS observe in another area, thus cutting back on the amount of times a child has to relive their traumatic experience.
Multiple Disciplinary Team Investigations
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County coordinates a multidisciplinary team approach among the agencies involved in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of child abuse. This supports the proper investigation of child abuse cases. The Advocacy Center staff coordinates and cooperates with other child-oriented agencies in the community in order to provide services to abused children and non-offending family members, including assistance in scheduling medical examinations, obtaining victim compensation, and providing information about the legal process. They provide a forum within which agency representatives, professionals and volunteers may gather and work together in assisting victims and non-offending family members. One way this is accomplished is through monthly Multiple Disciplinary Team Meetings. These are meetings in which agency representatives and professionals gather, once a month, to discuss current case facts and the status of the cases. Advocacy Center staff also provides education for schools.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County may hold training for the Multiple Disciplinary Team members in an effort to improve the knowledge and skills for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse. The Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County may also sponsor members of the Multiple Disciplinary Team in attendance to trainings in other areas.
Victim Support and Advocacy
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County provides support services to the victim and their non-offending family members in many different ways. The services are intended to meet the emotional, physical, and financial needs of the victim or their family. Advocacy Center staff provides support in the prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the abuse, when appropriate, and help the victim and family prepare for the trial process. They are able to also help family members learn how to deal with the emotional and physical needs of the victim going forward.
Counseling and Support Services
An important feature of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Parker County is the counseling services offered free of charge to victims of child abuse, their siblings, and their protective parents.
Our highly-trained therapists work closely with clients to determine an individualized treatment program for each individual. Counseling modalities utilized include Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, EMDR, family sessions and a variety of other modalities that our therapists are trained in.
Common trauma symptoms that a child might experience after abuse can include: nightmares, flashbacks, sadness, anxiety, anger, fear, irritability, difficulty concentrating, poor grades, fatigue, drug/alcohol abuse, and/or self-harm.
Although these can be normal reactions to trauma, it is important that victims of abuse have an opportunity to process their experiences in a safe, nonjudgmental environment with a trained professional who provides caring and empathic services. This offers children and their families an opportunity to learn healthy ways of coping in order to decrease any trauma symptoms that might be present. Even if trauma symptoms are not present, counseling can be beneficial because it gives clients an outlet to process what happened and to ensure a child feels safe. With the support of a protective caregiver and effective treatment, counseling can help a child recover from abuse without long-term negative effects.
All services are free of charge to victims and their non-offending familiy members.