SAFE PASSAGE: Helping families and children heal after abuse

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This story is based on actual client files. The names have been changed.

“We need to set up an emergency case review for a 6-year-old girl you interviewed last week,” the detective told the Safe Passage Advocate who answered the phone at the Children’s Advocacy Center. “The family is not handing this well, and I think they need more support right now.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is a safe, child-friendly, environment where children come to talk to trained forensic interviewers about suspected abuse, and where families receive support throughout the process.

The case review was set for the following day with the multidisciplinary team (MDT) which consists of law enforcement, child protection services, the forensic interviewer, prosecutors, mental and medical health providers and the CAC family advocate.

The MDT response works to reduce the impact of child abuse by bringing together all appropriate professionals in a child-friendly setting to investigate, hold offenders accountable and most importantly, help children heal from the abuse. This approach improves communication and data collection, which in turn optimizes outcomes and reduces trauma.

“After reviewing the family’s needs assessment with this new information, I think you’re right to recommend immediate counseling for the girl and a separate counseling referral for the parent,” the child protective services worker said.

The rest of the team agreed and the family went on to receive additional services in the community and from the CAC.

The MDT model is recognized as best practice and is successful because of the collaborative nature and the recognition that no one agency by itself can respond or prevent child abuse.

Last year, the Children’s Advocacy Center completed 213 forensic interviews. You can make a positive impact by donating to Safe Passage or by attending a bi-monthly Connect Lunch at Safe Passage. To RSVP (required) email kmiller@safepassageid.org or call 208-664-9303.

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