Every Child Matters – April 6
Have you ever wondered what happens at a Child Advocacy Center? Well, let me tell you. When a child discloses abuse and it is reported, an appointment will be made with the CAC. The Wetzel-Tyler Child Advocacy Center (now DBA: The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center) provides a safe, child friendly location for children to come speak with a trained Forensic Interviewer.
A forensic interview is a process where a child is given the opportunity to make a statement about what happened in a safe, supportive environment. The child is questioned in a legally-sound, developmentally appropriate manner by a trained professional. Interviews are recorded, reducing the number of times children need to be interviewed, therefore reducing trauma to the child. Information gathered in the forensic interview is used to help make decisions about protection, prosecution and treatment.
At the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center, we understand that abuse is scary for kids, parents and other family members. We work closely with the children and their families to minimize trauma.
While the child is being interviewed, the non-offending caregiver meets with the Family Advocate. The Family Advocate ensures that children and families get the support, education and resources they need to help them overcome the trauma of abuse. They listen to caregivers’ concerns and inform them about the dynamics of abuse and the effects of trauma. Family Advocates play a critical role in connecting clients with resources in the community to address needs including domestic violence, housing, clothing, food, financial assistance, legal assistance, mental health and medical needs. The Family Advocate maintains contact with clients on their path to healing and continues to empower them to obtain the resources and services they need to lead healthy lives.
The forensic 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 collected. The alleged offender will be interviewed. All of the information will be turned over to the county Prosecuting Attorney who will then decide whether or not to prosecute.
Did you know that you can help too? There are many ways to get involved with the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center and support our work. Learn more about how to prevent, recognize, respond to and report abuse. Make a donation to support our efforts. Stay up-to-date by following us on Facebook or visiting our website at www.thelighthousecac.org.
To report suspected child abuse in the State of West Virginia call: 1-800-352-6513.