SAFE Spot Child Advocacy Center provides services to help children and families affected by sexual abuse or severe physical abuse. Our services include:
After possible abuse is reported, the child is interviewed in SAFE Spot's interview room. Our interviewers are trained in ways to gather information without leading or upsetting the child. The interview is recorded, and members of the center's multidisciplinary team can watch the interview from our observation room as it happens. Click here to find out more about our forensic interviewers and their training.
A medical examiner checks the child's health and looks for evidence of injuries. The exam is performed in a child-friendly room and is not invasive or painful.
Mental Health Care
One of SAFE Spot's contracted therapists conducts a trauma assessment to find out how abuse has affected the child. After assessment, the therapist uses an evidence-based treatment to help the child recover. In some cases, non-offending family members may also participate in therapy. Click here for more information about how our therapists help children recover after abuse.
Child and Family Advocacy
SAFE Spot's victim advocate answers questions, provides support and connects children and families to needed services. He is their "point of first contact" with the center and will serve as the family's liaison throughout the process. If the case goes to court, our advocate helps prepare the child and family.
Child Advocacy Centers: A Better Response to Abuse
The child advocacy center movement was born in the early 1980's in Huntsville, Alabama when District Attorney Bud Cramer realized the process of investigating and prosecuting abuse cases was unnecessarily traumatizing to children. He led a movement to revolutionize care for abused children. Today, the National Children's Alliance sets standards for child advocacy centers and there are nearly 800 child advocacy centers across the U.S.
Here's how the child advocacy center approach benefits children, families and the community at large:
Better for Children
Fewer interviews. Abused children shouldn't have to tell their stories over and over. At SAFE Spot, DSS, law enforcement and prosecutors work together, reducing the number of interviews the child victim must endure.
A child friendly environment. SAFE Spot is bright, cheery and welcoming. It's more comfortable and more private than a police station or an office.
Increased referral to services to promote healing. SAFE Spot’s victim advocate helps child victims get the services they need to heal. One study found victims served by a child advocacy center were more than twice as likely to receive support services.
Ongoing care. SAFE Spot’s victim advocate tracks cases over time to be sure victims continue to get the services they need, even after DSS and criminal investigations are closed.
Better emotional and physical health. Adverse childhood experiences like child sexual abuse have been linked to a higher incidence of chronic health conditions in later life. When kids get the help they need when they need it, they can recover, reducing the risk of poor health in the future.
Children served by a child advocacy center are more likely to get the services they need to recover from abuse.
Better for Families
Greater convenience. Investigation, medical services, counseling and victim assistance are all provided locally.
Easier access to needed information. Our victim advocate works with non-offending caregivers from initial disclosure on, providing information, support, referrals to needed services and assistance with the legal process.
Inclusion of the family in the recovery process. We offer educational and therapeutic resources to help non-offending family members learn how to best help the abused child.
Better for the Community
Improved evidence collection. Trained interviewers obtain better evidence of abuse. When victim statements are obtained by trained forensic interviewers, prosecutors accept more cases and conviction rates go up, the National Institute of Justice reports. Reduction of repetitive interviews reduces the possibility of case contamination. Timely medical examinations preserve critical physical evidence.
Improved substantiation and prosecution of abuse cases. Joint child welfare-law enforcement investigations result in quicker response times, more prosecutions and more guilty pleas, a study by the Center for Policy Research found. Convicting adults who prey on children helps reduce the overall level of abuse in the community.
More efficient provision of services. Providing timely medical and mental health care to victims reduces long term costs.
Abuse prevention and identification. SAFE Spot helps coordinate efforts in the community to prevent abuse and encourage suffering children to come forward. We coordinate the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® sexual abuse education program in the public schools and provide free Darkness to Light Stewards of Children abuse prevention training to schools, churches and other youth serving organizations.