The CAC’s goal is to help every child feel as comfortable as possible as the multidisciplinary team determines what may have happened. To ensure this goal, a Forensic Interviewer will speak with the child to gather information in a compassionate and non-leading way.
What is a Forensic Interview?
A forensic interview is a fact-finding conversation conducted by a specially-trained Forensic Interviewer when there has been a report of child sexual abuse, serious physical abuse, or when a child has witnessed a violent crime. The interview is designed to provide the child an opportunity to talk about the reason for their visit to the CAC. The Forensic Interviewer strives to make the child feel as comfortable as possible while gathering information to determine what may have occurred. Questions are asked in a non-leading manner at a pace that is comfortable for the child.
Our Family Advocate works directly with the families who come to MCCAC for services. The Family Advocate works to reduce trauma and stress to the child and non-offending family members throughout the care process.
While the forensic interview with the child is taking place, the Family Advocate uses this time to get to know the caregiver and to assess the overall needs of the family. The Family Advocate assists the child and family through the investigation process, providing emotional support and assisting with counseling and medical referrals. Some families need additional support; in these situations, the Family Advocate offers referrals to connect the family with additional community support as needed.
Services provided by the Family Advocate include:
Providing crisis intervention, support, and assistance with safety planning
Helping caregivers better understand the legal and child protective systems
Connecting caregivers to a broader support system through referrals to resources in the community
Child abuse can cause children and their families to lose trust in the world and in themselves. Support from a mental health professional can help children and families:
Deal with strong and often confusing feelings
Develop positive coping skills
Heal from the trauma and move beyond the abuse
MCCAC provides children and their families with referrals to both on-site and off-site mental health counseling. All services are provided free of charge, thanks to grant funding and community contributions to support the work of the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center.
The therapists are specially trained to provide trauma-informed care. Through counseling, the child and family can find a renewed sense of hope and direction.
Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is an evidenced-based treatment approach that is used with clients with significant emotional symptoms following a traumatic event. Treatment goals are developed following an initial assessment of needs and discussion of needs/concerns with both the child and their parent/caregiver.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is an interactive therapy technique used to relieve psychological stress, and it is an effective treatment for trauma.
After a disclosure or concern of abuse, it is often helpful for a child to see a medical professional. The CAC provides off-site referrals for forensically-sound medical services by specially-trained pediatric sexual assault examiners. The medical exam is not painful or invasive.
The medical exam is important to:
Ensure the health and well-being of the child
Reassure the child that everything is okay with their body
Diagnose and treat medical conditions that may or may not be related to child abuse
Provide documentation of possible physical and forensic findings
Address any underlying medical, developmental, or psychological concerns
MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAM CASE REVIEW
The Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is at the heart of the CAC’s response to allegations of child abuse. The goal of the MDT is to work collaboratively to respond to concerns of child abuse, to provide justice for victims of crime, and to determine the best response for the child and family.
The Center provides a central location for joint investigations and information sharing between all agencies involved in a case, including law enforcement, children’s protective services, courts, advocates, and mental health and medical professionals. This allows the child to be interviewed one time instead of enduring multiple interviews, thus reducing the trauma for the child victim.
Our MDT team meets regularly at the Child Advocacy Center to provide case updates and to coordinate services.
PREVENTION AND OUTREACH
The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center aspires to be a leader in community prevention efforts and a champion for all of our children.
The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center provides free training to equip adults with the tools to identify the warning signs of abuse and react responsibly if they suspect abuse is happening.
To schedule a Stewards of Children training for your staff or community group, contact us at email@example.com.
Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment. Please join us during the month of April, national Child Abuse Prevention Month, by promoting and strengthening child abuse prevention efforts in our community.
YOUTH PREVENTION EDUCATION
The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center partners with area schools to offer child abuse prevention education to students. The Child Safety Matters program is evidence-based and meets the requirements outlined in Erin’s Law (signed in January 2013, www.erinslaw.org) for Michigan students.
The CAC’s Outreach and Prevention Specialist provides age-appropriate lessons in the classroom with students’ regular teaching staff present. Lessons vary by age, but include the following general concepts:
Identifying the safe adults in a child’s life they can go to if they need help
Recognizing 3 different types of touches: safe, unsafe, confusing
Using the 3-part safety rule: Say No. Get away. Tell a trusted adult.
It’s never too late to tell, and child abuse is never the child’s fault.
Middle and High School Students
Healthy relationships and domestic violence
Harassment, assault, and abuse
Internet safety, social media usage, and “sexting”
Respect, bullying, and cyberbullying
Students participate in two 45 minute, age-appropriate lessons that include the use of a short video and class lecture/discussion. The lessons are designed to build on each other year after year and reinforce messages over time.
Our hope is that by providing our children with information on how to avoid abuse, report it if it has occurred, or help a friend in need, we can proactively reduce child abuse in our community.
If you are an educator or school administrator interested in bringing the program to your school, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.