Child Advocacy

Helping abused children and their families requires an approach that addresses the physical, emotional, and legal dimensions of abuse. And it requires a coordinated response from expert professionals to reduce stress throughout the investigation and intervention process.

The MRCAC works in partnership with all the necessary agencies and specialists to coordinate a plan of action. Together, we work with police, prosecutors, social workers, advocates, medical and mental health professionals, and others to provide high-quality, specialized services for abused children and their families. In addition, we provide all of our services in the comfort and convenience of our child-friendly location.

When You Arrive

When you arrive at the MRCAC, you will be greeted in a safe, child-friendly environment by a Victim Advocate, who will help provide you with a support system. The Victim Advocate will help walk you through the system, providing case management in order to promote healing and growth. They will facilitate and coordinate a variety of other agencies who will work with you each step of the way so that you do not have to go through this alone.

First Step

Once at the MRCAC, a law enforcement or child protective services investigator will meet with you to explain the process and what will happen during the interview. The trained detective and/or child protective investigator will talk to your child in one of our child-friendly interview rooms. After the interview, you will have time to discuss the next steps in this journey.

Next Steps

The Victim Advocate will coordinate additional services for you and your child. These services include:

Medical Evaluation

A medical evaluation will be provided by the CARE (Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation) team (a social worker, nurse practitioner, and physician). The team meets with the child’s caregiver to obtain information about why the child is being seen at CARE as well as to conduct a medical and psychosocial history of the child.

After the history is complete, the doctor or nurse will perform a head to toe physical exam of the child: this is usually an external exam only. The doctor may do some medical testing if it is necessary. The CARE team asks the child who they want in the exam room with them (if they are old enough) and explain everything that they are going to do.

After the exam is complete, the doctor or nurse practitioner will explain the exam results and any testing that was done. They will also answer any questions and discuss follow up recommendations.

Trauma-Informed Therapy

The MRCAC has trauma-informed therapists on site and works with many local mental health professionals to provide individual, family, and group counseling to those affected by child abuse. An intake appointment will be scheduled for the child/family by the Victim Advocate.

About Medical Evaluations …

Is a medical evaluation required?

No child is forced to have a medical evaluation. All children have the option of having a medical examination conducted especially if there are signs of physical injury or if the type of abuse is unclear without an exam. It is rare that the evaluation includes a speculum exam.

Should parents accompany their children to the medical examination?

Parents should respect the child’s decision. Some children want a supportive adult in the room, while others prefer no one be present during the examination.

Will the examination definitely show whether or not abuse occurred?

Most children have no physical injuries after sexual abuse, but this certainly does not mean that abuse didn’t occur. It is advised to have a medical evaluation conducted as many find it comforting and therapeutic.

About Forensic Interviews …

What is a forensic interview?

A forensic interview is a single session interview designed to obtain an accurate account from a child when there are concerns of possible abuse or when the child has witnessed violence against another person. The interview is conducted in a developmentally and culturally sensitive, unbiased, fact-finding, supportive, and non-leading manner by a trained professional.

Who will accompany parents as the forensic interview is conducted?

It is understandable that waiting during the interview may be difficult. We encourage you to bring a friend or other support person and our Victim Advocate will provide support and helpful information while the interview is taking place and provide valuable resources to you and your family.

About Support and Counseling …

What support is available for children and parents?

Abused children often do not feel good about themselves. A child may feel frustrated, guilty, scared, or helpless. Professional counseling can help children and parents. Our Victim Advocate can make a referral.

What support is available for family members?

Often it is difficult for family members to begin the healing process. Our Victim Advocate will call you to assess your needs and discuss available services.

What should parents talk about with their children after coming to the MRCAC?

Let your child take the lead. Listen rather than ask questions. Don’t be concerned if your child is too physically or emotionally tired to talk more at first. You should always thank your child for being brave and offer both love and support no matter the outcome.