Every Child Matters: Week One
What exactly is the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center? I am often asked this question and am always happy to explain. The Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center and our partners are our community’s front-line responders to reports of child abuse. We provide a child-focused response that reduces trauma for children and helps them begin their path to healing.
When police or child protective services believes a child is being abused, the child is brought to the child advocacy center a safe, child-focused environment by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the Lighthouse CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained forensic interviewer who knows the right questions to ask. 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. All interviews are recorded, reducing the number of times children need to be interviewed, therefore reducing trauma to the child.
Based on the interview, a team that includes law enforcement, mental health providers, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocates, and other professionals make decisions together about protection, treatment, and prosecution. The Lighthouse CAC then offers a wide range of services, like referrals to trauma-focused therapy, medical exams, victim advocacy, case management, and more.
Every year, children and families come to The Lighthouse CAC in the aftermath of an allegation of abuse or a violent crime. We understand that abuse is scary for kids, parents, and other family members. Our dedicated Family Advocates work closely with the children and their families to minimize trauma and promote healing during and following the forensic interview process. For some, the path to healing is clear, and for others, the obstacles may seem overwhelming. Regardless of their trauma, their level of need, or their ability to pay, the Lighthouse CAC is here to help.
Did you know that you can help too? There are many ways to get involved with the Lighthouse CAC 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.
If you suspect a child is being abused, please call DHHR’s Centralized Intake at 1-800-352-6513 and contact your local law enforcement agency. If it is an emergency, call 911.