What is advocacy?
At the Kids-TALK Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), we want to make sure that you and your child feel safe and supported. When you come to the CAC for a forensic interview, you will also meet with an Advocate. The Advocate will listen to you and your child. They want to support you and your family.
One role of the Advocate is to make sure you and your child’s voices are heard and respected. After listening and hearing your questions and concerns, your Advocate will make sure you and your child’s questions are answered. Your Advocate will also work to understand your questions, concerns, and any challenges you may be facing. They will share information about the investigative process and provide support, education, and resources. They will be on your side. You and your Advocate will work together to connect you and your family with the right services and professionals who can help your child heal and recover.
How long is the appointment?
Forensic interview/advocacy appointments vary in length of appointment depending on the number of children being seen for an appointment. We allow a minimum for a minimum of two hours per appointment. While the appointment may not last all of that time, it is important that you and your child(ren) have enough time to feel comfortable, meet with our team, understand what will be happening at the appointment, get the support and resources that you need, and not feel rushed. We are here to help and make sure that you feel safe and cared for throughout the entire process. If you have any questions or concerns about advocacy or your appointment, please ask! We are here to support you and your child on this journey.
What can we expect when we arrive to Kids-TALK CAC?
When you and your family arrive to Kids-TALK CAC please park in our onsite parking lot! Here are few things that you can expect:
A warm welcome: You will be greeted by friendly staff members who are there to help and support you. They will welcome you with warm smiles and friendly greetings and make you feel welcomed and comfortable.
A safe and caring environment: Our CAC is designed to be a safe and welcoming place for children and families. There will be different rooms where you will be able to talk in private and spend time together. Your Advocate will tell you about the caring professionals who are specially trained to help children and families who may have experienced difficult situations. The Advocate will show you where the forensic interview room is, where the restrooms are, and where you and your child will be before, during, and after the interview. We have spaces that are designed to be child-friendly and make children and teenagers feel comfortable while they are at Kids-TALK CAC. We have toys, games, and fidget toys that they can play with while they are here. Our goal is to create an environment where your child feels safe and can ask questions.
If they have any worries or concerns, they can talk to the Advocate who is a friendly person who is there to help and listen and offer support.
Meeting with the team: You will have the opportunity to meet with the team of caring professionals who specialize in helping children who may have experienced abuse, neglect, or trauma. You will be able to ask questions and share any information that you think is important for the team to know. The CAC is a place where everyone cares about your family’s well-being. We want you and your child(ren) to feel comfortable and safe and get the support that you need.
Meeting with the Advocate: When your child is having their forensic interview, your Advocate will be with you and will focus on you, your needs, and the needs of your child. They are there to support you, listen to you, and answer any questions that you may have. You can talk to the Advocate about your concerns. They will listen and provide support. The Advocate provides information about what is happening, what to expect during the investigation, and share information about the legal system, trauma, and any other information you may want to know. If you need any resources or information, the Advocate can provide them to you. They can also help you learn more about ways to protect and support your child and help them heal. Your Advocate is there to help you feel more comfortable and informed. Remember, a supportive caregiver is very important to your child’s ability to heal.
Support and resources: The Advocate will offer support and resources to you and your family. They can answer any questions that you have and provide information and resources about medical evaluations, therapy, and other services and support that may be helpful for your family’s healing process.
Respect and understanding: We will treat you and your family with respect, kindness, and understanding. We know that no two families are the same and we are dedicated to making sure that you feel safe and cared for during your time at the CAC. Again, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask our team members who are there to support you and your family.
What should you and your child bring?
When you and your child come for a forensic interview/advocacy at Kids-TALK CAC, there are a few things that you might want to bring with you.
Comfort items: Your child may bring something (without sound) such as a stuffed animal, a blanket, or special toy that helps them feel safe and comfortable. Having something familiar can help your child relax or feel more at ease during an interview. This may also include a fidget toy (without sound), although we do have fidget toys available for children of all ages.
Support person: It is very important that the adult who comes to the CAC with your child is a trusted adult that can provide your child with comfort and support. The adult can be with your child before and after the interview and help your child feel more secure. Additionally, it can be helpful for the adult to also have a support person.
Answers: Our team welcomes questions and loves to help! If you have any questions or concerns about the forensic interview/advocacy or anything else, please ask during the reminder call that you will receive one day before your appointment or write your questions down and bring them with you to the CAC. This way, you will not forget to ask anything that is on your mind. Also, your Advocate will follow-up with you and your family after the forensic interview to answer any questions and discuss any updates or concerns that you may have. Our goal is to make sure that children and families feel safe and comfortable while at the CAC. The Kids-TALK CAC team is there to support you and make sure that you have what you need.
How should you prepare your child for the appointment at Kids-TALK CAC?
It is normal for a child to feel nervous or worried before coming to the CAC; however, the Kids-TALK CAC team is here to help and support your child. It is important that no one (including caregivers) interviews your child or asks a lot of questions about what happened, but preparing your child to visit Kids-TALK CAC is important to help them feel more comfortable and ready. Here are some other suggestions:
Explain the purpose: You can share with your child that they will meet with an Advocate before and after their forensic interview. You can explain that an Advocate is a person who is there to help and support them and make sure they feel safe and comfortable. You can share with your child that they can talk to the Advocate about any worries or questions that they have and that the Advocate will listen carefully. Share with your child that the Advocate is on their side, wants to make things easier for them, and will help to make them feel as comfortable as possible.
Reassure and support: Make sure that your child knows that you are there for them. It is normal for a child to feel a bit scared or confused, but reassure them that the CAC team has a lot of experience working with children who have gone through similar things.
Talk about feelings: Encourage your child to talk about their feelings and let them know that it is normal to have those feelings. Allow your child room to express them self.
Answer questions: Do your best to answer questions that your child may have. Your answers do not have to be detailed. Let your child know that it is okay to have questions and encourage them to ask you. If you do not know the answer, let your child know that you will work to find the answer. Again, the Kids-TALK CAC team is happy to help answer any questions that you or your child may have.
Practice self-care: It is important for you and your child get enough rest and keep your routines as normal as possible. Take care of your physical and emotional well-being!
Remember, at Kids-TALK CAC, children’s well-being is our priority. The Kids-TALK CAC team is trained to work with children and teenagers who may have experienced difficult situations. They will do their best to create a safe and supportive environment. A supportive adult in your child’s life plays a very positive role in your child’s healing.