CARE House of Oakland County: It shouldn't hurt to be a child.
CARE House of Oakland County: It shouldn't hurt to be a child.

CARE House provides a safe place where a child's voice can be heard.

When a case of suspected child abuse has been reported, Children's Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement does an initial investigative and determines if the child should be referred to CARE House for an interview.

In 2014, 807 children came to CARE House to talk about their abuse.

Case Coordination/MDT Approach
Following the Best Practice Standard of its accrediting body, the National Children's Alliance (NCA), the Child Advocacy Center at CARE House participates in a multi-disciplinary approach, coordinating a team from law enforcement, CPS, and Oakland County Prosecutors Office, and other team members as needed, such as a medical professional. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) meets at CARE House to discuss the case and observe the interview of the child.

Forensic Interview
One of the highly trained CARE House Intervention staff interviews the potential child victim about what happened to him or her, while being observed by the MDT. The interviews are also videotaped.

Crisis Counseling
Because child abuse affects not only the child but the entire family, the Crisis Counselor offers support, materials and referrals for community resources to the non-offending parent. The Crisis Counselor meets with the parent while the child is being interviewed at CARE House, and also makes two follow-up telephone contacts to the parent.

Medical Evaluation
CARE House has a medical exam room, where doctors will volunteer their time and expertise in child abuse, to provide wellness exams for children who have been interviewed at CARE House.

Sexually abused children often feel they are damaged goods. A wellness evaluation, a non-invasive head-to-toe exam, can reassure the child and parent that the child has not been physically damaged, which is beneficial to their emotional healing from abuse. Many times there are no physical signs of abuse – the trauma's not visible, it's inside the child.

Court Orientation
When a child has to testify in court about the abuse, it is often an intimidating experience. In an effort to help alleviate some of that anxiety, CARE House provides a monthly Court Orientation session, where the Crisis Counselor takes the child and non-offending parent into an actual courtroom, to learn where they will be seated, where the judge, jury, attorneys and defendant will be, and what will happen during the court proceeding. At times, CARE House staff will also accompany the child to court to provide support while the child testifies.

www.nationalchildrensalliance.org

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