These services are designed to assist in reviewing the victimization and trauma inflicted on the children to determine what services are necessary to help in the healing process. Counseling and crisis intervention are a part of this service provided by the Center, and the Child Protective Investigation Team is also involved. This could also include a physical examination provided onsite at the Child Advocacy Center.
Responding to an abused child’s courage to speak up, the Child Advocacy Centers are part of the Exchange Club—Carl Perkins Center network to provide group and individual services for our innocent children who are victims of severe physical and/or sexual abuse.
The child needs a caring group of professionals that believe the horrific story that has been shared with them. And this team joins together and shares resources to help the child cope and deal with the abuse. From the beginning of the interview throughout the prosecution, or closure of the case, the child receives the best possible care available. The ultimate goal follows a series of steps to help the child to cope.
The first step is the facility itself. Each Child Advocacy Center resembles a home-like setting with a comfortable and welcoming sitting area, playrooms and home-like areas. It allows children to talk about what has happened to them in a non-threatening environment rather than a police station or courtroom.
The second step is that the Center provides a trained forensic interviewer and a therapist for the child. A highly trained counselor conducts the interviews with the child, while a group of professionals from law enforcement, court and social services view the process on monitors in the next room. The interview is taped for record keeping. Together, they hope to create a strong case that will convict the offender.
The third step is the proven process of all of the services coming to the child. This helps greatly, because the child does not have to repeat their story over and over again and relive the victimization they experienced, plus the child can stay in the safe environment of the Child Advocacy Center.
Recently in Tennessee, these courageous children and their advocates won a huge victory with Senate Bill 312 and House Bill 619. The tapes of these interviews are classified as evidence now. In other words, it is admissible in a court of law, meaning these children do not have to face their abuser in a court. This reinforces that the abused child’s needs are of the utmost importance.
The fourth step is healing. Each of our twenty-three Exchange Club Carl Perkins Center locations are staffed with a highly professional team that share resources to accomplish a path to healing and help these courageous children to move on and be healthy and happy children. Victim Advocacy Services also provided: support counseling and assistance, case management, filing victims comp, court preparations and transportation.