Patsy’s House Children’s Advocacy Center is a comprehensive, child-focused program that offers a highly effective, one-stop approach to child abuse investigation. The facility allows law enforcement, child protection professionals, prosecutors and the mental health and medical communities to work together with victims of child abuse and sexual assault in a comprehensive and cohesive manner. The center offers a comfortable, private, child-friendly setting where forensic interviews and counseling can be conducted. The center also focuses on the health and future of child victims.
Patsy’s House strives to improve investigations while reducing harmful effects on children and families. With early intervention, the caring team of professionals at Patsy’s House help break the cycle of abuse and cultivate a child’s chance of becoming a healthy adult.
To put children and their families at ease, Patsy’s House has established a neutral, home-like facility where interviews of and services for children can be provided. Patsy’s House provides trained professional interviewers who specialize in taking testimony of children using non-leading techniques. Having knowledgeable, neutral interviewers helps to provide a more accurate and consistent account of the abuse from the child victim.
The overall goal of Patsy’s House is to help children and their families heal from the trauma of abuse so that the crime does not define their lives. The path to recovery starts with a step into therapy.
Through a grant from VOCA (Victims of Crimes Act), Patsy’s House provides funding for counseling to children and their families to begin therapy soon after the initial interview is conducted. This immediate access to counseling is crucial to assist in the healing process.
Without treatment, child victims of sexual assault are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, exhibit poor school performance, become sexually promiscuous, abuse drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide and in some instances, act out their abuse on other children.
Multidisciplinary Case Review
Representatives from law enforcement, medical and mental health professionals, child protective services and prosecution meet regularly to discuss current child abuse cases. During the investigative process, while maintaining their own roles and responsibilities, team members are able to receive input from other professionals before making decisions regarding a case. This case information is utilized in conjunction with a tracking system to stay informed of the case through closure to ensure needs of the victim are met and cases are not lost or forgotten.
Family Advocates provide crisis intervention support to child victims and their non-offending family members by providing assistance in completing the Crime Victims’ Compensation paperwork, community services referrals and general information about victims’ rights provided throughout the investigative process.
During the initial assessment, the Family Advocate will provide counseling options for the child and family. The center contacts the family following the initial services to verify that counseling services have been accessed, complete a survey of services, and to determine whether the family has further need for referral.
Throughout the investigative process, the Family Advocate tracks open cases through to final disposition and remains available to families to answer any questions they may have regarding the judicial process.