Who We Are
We are a Child Advocacy Center that provides a safe space for abused children and non-offending family members to receive support, justice, treatment, and healing.
To offer hope and healing to children and families impacted by child abuse and neglect through a coordinated community response.
Our core values are child advocacy, humility, kindness, and professionalism.
The Children’s Place will provide leadership in a team approach to ensure that all our children are safe, nurtured and heard. Our community will not accept child abuse and its effects and will work collaboratively so that:
- Every child who has been abused will be protected from further harm.
- Every child and family will be provided with support to put the trauma behind them.
- Every child in harm’s way will be safeguarded from harm.
- Every abuser will be stopped as early in life as possible.
What We Do
We provide a child-friendly, safe, and neutral location where law enforcement and CPS investigators conduct interviews with children who are alleged victims of crimes and receive support, crisis intervention, and referrals for treatment.
Advocacy for Children
Our priority is creating a safe environment where law enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS) can conduct forensic interviews with children who are alleged victims of crimes. Our multidisciplinary team collaborates to provide support, crisis intervention, and referrals for mental health treatment.
Compassionate forensic interviews are conducted by a specialist or criminal investigator, recorded on DVD, and provided to law enforcement. The interview is a structured conversation to learn details about what a child has experienced, assess their safety, and determine if treatment is needed.
Forensic Medical Exams
We may conduct a thorough forensic medical exam to evaluate and treat physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. It is a non-invasive medical examination performed by a medical provider who has specialized training in the evaluation of child abuse. Our findings may help determine what has happened and how to move forward.
Report Child Abuse
To report child abuse, contact OCS and contact law enforcement using the information below.
Frequently Asked Questions
No. Only professionals directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation.
Most of us working at the Child Advocacy Center are parents just like you. We understand how being in the same room with our child may influence what the child says or doesn’t say. If our child doesn’t answer quickly enough, we may answer for them. Whenever we have made exceptions to the rule, it just doesn’t work. It’s hard for us as moms and dads to sit quietly or not influence the interview with a concerned look or an emotional reaction. Parents are also not allowed in the observation room during their child’s interview. We ensure confidentiality, only professionals are allowed in the observation room.
All of the interviews at The Children’s Place are recorded to minimize the number of times your child will have to talk about what happened. The DVD recording of the interview is turned over to law enforcement as part of their forensic evidence.
You might tell your child:
“We are going to The Children’s Place. It is a special place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to, talks to lots of kids about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
Your child will be talking to one of our trained forensic interviewers. They have attended advanced training on how to talk to children about difficult subjects, many of these professionals have several years of experience and hold degrees in the social work field. Our interviewers are trained to not ask suggestive questions and to move at a pace that is comfortable for your child. We never force a child to talk to us.
We also offer extended forensic interviews, which allows the child to come back over several visits to talk to our interviewer. The same questioning strategies are used as in a regular interview, but we recognize that some children need more time to feel safe and comfortable with this environment and with us. So we just slow the whole process down for them, but we’re not asking them the same questions over and over.
You will be meeting with your family advocate. We want to answer any questions you have, guide you through this process and make all resources we have available to your family. If we do not know the answer, we will find out and get the information back to you as soon as we can. Our Family advocates will listen to your worries, concerns and provide resources to help you through a difficult time. Our advocates will listen and get you the help you need. Your other children are welcome to play in our lobby area so you can talk privately to your advocate. Our staff works with children all the time and we can watch the other children as you focus on your child’s and family needs. We can provide meals and snacks when the interviews happen late at night and we offer our kids that visit us a blanket to take home.
You will be able to talk to members of the investigation team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.
Remember, your child’s interview is just the first step in the investigative process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. There may be physical evidence that needs to be photographed or collected. The alleged offender will be interviewed by law enforcement. At this point in the process it’s often difficult to predict what will happen. All of the information will be turned over to the district attorney, through law enforcement who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your advocate will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact your advocate. Your family advocate will be with you from beginning to end, they will call you and check in to see how you are doing and how your child(ren) are doing.
Parents and children are often worried about whether they will have to testify in court. It’s really way too early to know. If this happens, our advocate will be with you every step of the way. We understand that this can be a scary time for the child and for the family. We will do everything we can to make this process easy to understand.
Based on the allegation or the interview, the members of the investigative team may decide a medical evaluation is needed. For many children, knowing their bodies are okay is a huge relief, and seeing one of our medical providers will make them less worried or anxious.
We have Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who has specialized in child abuse who conducts the medical evaluations at the Child Advocacy Center. Dr Cathy, and our Nurses may want to spend some time with you to collect important medical history, but they will also want to talk to your child one-on-one to answer any of their questions. When it comes time for the actual medical evaluation, we leave it up to the child who they want in the room. Some children want their parent(s) in the room and some don’t.
Our medical providers use a tool to help them see the genital area more clearly. This tool is called a colposcope and it is a magnification device with a camera. The medical provider can take a picture of what they are seeing. If they need a second opinion, your child doesn’t have to have another exam. They can consult with a medical peer utilizing the photographs taken during the evaluation.
When the medical evaluation is over, the medical provider will be able to tell you what he or she has learned.
Some children do and some don’t. Every child is unique in how they cope. Some may not need counseling now but will need counseling down the road. Maybe you need counseling more than your child to help you cope with everything that has happened. Your advocate will listen and provide referral information. What we do know is that children who are believed and protected from continued abuse can do quite well.
It’s best to address issues and concerns now, rather than years later. We are more than happy to help you get counseling, please let our advocates know. Even if you decline at first and then change your mind later on, please give us a call. We are here to help you and your child.
No family is expected to pay for any services that happen at our facility.