When a report of child abuse is made, the child and their family are usually in a state of crisis. In many cases, the perpetrator is someone the child knows and loves. Sometimes this may be a parent or guardian.
Children are referred to our center through the Department of Children’s Services or Law Enforcement to have a forensic interview, medical, and/or therapy completed. Here at New Hope we have two Child and Family Advocates; one to provide support during forensic interviews, medicals, and throughout the investigation and one to provide coordination of services in our therapy department.
As advocates, we work alongside and walk alongside our clients and help them through this journey while they’re at our center.Sarah Cruze, Child and Family Advocate
Our Child and Family Advocates provide services for families both during the investigative process and as they begin their journey toward healing. These support services may include:
- Explaining the forensic interview and investigative process to the family. During this time, our advocate also provides information about child trauma and what services are available for the victim and their family.
- Completing a needs assessment with the non-offending caregiver to screen for any outside needs the family may have and referring to community resources, if needed. Our advocates also maintain a clothing closet to provide children with clothes, hygiene items, shoes, and other essential items.
- Coordinating of forensic medicals, either emergency (within 72 hours) or nonemergency.
- Participating in the Child Protective Investigative Team (CPIT), giving the family a voice during multi-disciplinary team meetings.
- Working with the therapists and non-offending caregiver(s) to provide continuity of services.
- Accompanying children to court to help the child feel safe and supported.
- Assisting with Victims Compensation: The Victims Compensation Program assists victims of crimes with monetary needs such as mental health care, medical care, moving expenses, pain and suffering, and funeral costs. Both of our advocates are trained to assist families in applying for Victims Compensation. To learn more visit https://treasury.tn.gov/Services/Claims-and-Risk-Management/Criminal-Injuries-Compensation.
- Providing a Safe Space for children awaiting placement in foster care. When a child is removed from their home and placed in foster care, it can take several hours to find a placement. In many counties, these children must wait at the Department of Children’s Services Office. However, in Blount County, these children can wait at our CAC where they can be given a meal, a place to shower, toiletries, clean clothes, and items to take with them and call their own. We also have trained staff available to assist the children to deal with the emotions related to the removal, when requested.