Every Child Matters – April 20
Each year, countless children suffer from abuse and neglect. All too often they have been abused and victimized by the very adults responsible for protecting, loving and providing for them. Clearly, child abuse is a community problem. No single agency, individual, or discipline has the necessary knowledge, skills or resources to provide the assistance abused children need and deserve. In the past, the systems designed to deal with child abuse victims were fragmented, adult oriented, and insensitive to the needs of the child. Professionals from child protection, law enforcement, legal, medical, and mental health systems would meet and talk with the child separately and repeatedly in facilities designed for adults. It became evident that this adult oriented response to cases of child abuse was not meeting the needs of the children and their families. Unfortunately, in our efforts to come to the aid of abused children, child abuse professionals were likely, inadvertently, causing additional suffering and trauma.
Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) were established in an effort to enhance the sensitivity and responsiveness of these systems, thereby minimizing the impact of the trauma, providing important investigative, medical and mental health services for these children and their families, and facilitating the prosecution of perpetrators through coordination of services and implementation of a team approach.
The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center is part of two multi-disciplinary investigative teams of professional individuals who work together to respond to child abuse allegations. The MDIT meets regularly to communicate and collaborate on child maltreatment cases. Cases are reviewed beginning with the victim’s initial outcry through investigation, treatment and prosecution. Team members include: Prosecuting Attorneys, Law Enforcement, Child Protective Services, Forensic Interviewers, Mental Health services, Medical providers, and Victim Services. Participation in these meetings provides all parties with valuable information, helps provide direction, and ultimately benefits the child and families involved. Communication within the team reduces duplication, mistakes and keeps victims from falling through the cracks. The most important responsibility of all team members is to keep the well-being of the child victim as their first priority.
Follow us on Facebook or visit our website at www.thelighthousecac.org to learn more. To report suspected child abuse in the State of West Virginia call: 1-800-352-6513.