What should I tell my child about coming to the Child Advocacy Center?
You might tell your child: “We are going to the Carousel Center. It is a special place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of kids about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
Who will my child talk to?
On their first visit, your child will be talking to one of our trained interviewers, and a medical provider. These professionals have attended basic and advanced training on how to talk to children about difficult subjects. It’s important that any details about the alleged abuse come from the child. Our interviewers are trained to not ask suggestive questions and to move at a pace that is comfortable for your child. They never force a child to talk to them.
What will I be doing while my child is talking to someone?
You will be meeting with your family advocate. They will answer any questions you have. If they don’t know the answer, it is their job to find out. They will listen to your worries and concerns and provide resources to help you through a difficult time. Our advocates are not therapists, but they can listen and get you the help you need.
Your other children are welcome to play in our lobby area so you can talk privately to your advocate. Our staff assistant or one of our interns will keep an eye on them. Before they find our snacks in our kitchen, be sure to let us know if your child(ren) has any food allergies or diet restrictions.
What happens after the interview?
You will be able to talk to members of the investigation team. They will tell you in general terms what they learned from the interview. You will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice your concerns.
Remember, your child’s interview is just the first step in the process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. There may be physical evidence that needs to be photographed or collected. The alleged offender will be interviewed. So, at this point in the process, it’s often difficult to predict what will happen. All of the information will be turned over to the county attorney who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your family advocate will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact your advocate.
Parents and children are often worried about whether they will have to testify in court. It’s really way too early to know. If this happens, our advocate will be with you every step of the way and will even provide a special Court School to help your child feel more comfortable.
Child Medical Evaluation (CME) and Forensic Interview
Professionals with specialized training and education perform a child medical evaluation and forensic interview when there are potential concerns for abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence (child maltreatment?). The evaluation includes a detailed history from a non-offending caregiver, a forensic interview, and a medical exam in a nurturing and supportive child-friendly environment.
A Forensic Interview is a structured conversation with a child using an evidence-based protocol, RADAR. The purpose of the interview is to obtain a detailed history of the child’s experience to aid in medical diagnosis and assess the overall health, well-being, and safety of the child. (Further info link to RADAR or another page on site).
Child Medical Exam
The Child Medical Exam takes place at the Carousel Center in a child-friendly examination room. Each child receives a thorough head-to-toe exam similar to a well-child exam. Our medical staff is rostered through the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Medicine Child Medical Evaluation program.
Following the child’s evaluation, our multidisciplinary team will formulate recommendations regarding the overall health and safety of the child which will be shared with the non-offending caregiver.
Will my child need counseling?
Some children do and some don’t. Every child is unique in how they cope. Some may not need counseling now but will need counseling down the road. Maybe you need counseling more than your child to help you cope with everything that has happened. Your advocate will listen and provide referral information. What we do know is that children who are believed and protected from continued abuse are able to do quite well.
It is very important to your child’s recovery that you work with a therapist specifically trained and experienced in trauma and abuse. This is a field with special expertise.
In most instances, it is important to provide your child with an opportunity to talk with a professional. Too often parents just want their child to “forget” about the abuse and “move on.” That’s easier said than done. Counseling can help your child and family through this very difficult time. It’s best to address issues and concerns now, rather than years later.
We have therapists available at the Carousel Center, or we can provide you with referrals to therapists in the community. Please call 910-254-9898 to request Therapy. Please know that if our therapist’s schedules are full, you may be referred to a community provider that provides Trauma Therapy.
Therapy Dog on Site
Rudy, the Carousel Center’s Therapy Dog, is a certified Canines for Service Therapy Dog and is on-site to provide additional support to children and their families if needed.
Rudy is available to meet children and their families when they come to TCC for interviews related to child abuse. He may also accompany a child to a trial when the time comes to testify. A therapy dog can help calm a child and reduce the child’s level of anxiety.
If you prefer not to interact with Rudy (you’re allergic to or afraid of dogs, or they just aren’t your cup of tea), please alert the Carousel Center Family Advocate, or Greeter when you arrive at the facility, and we will ensure you are placed in a “Rudy-Free” Room, and we will have Rudy “work” in his office while you visit.
How To Report Suspected Child Abuse
If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, or if you think a child may have died from being mistreated, the law requires you to report what you know to your county’s Department of Social Services.
- New Hanover County: 910-798-3400
- Brunswick County: 910-253-2077
- Pender County: 910-259-1240
If you believe a child is in imminent danger call 9-1-1 immediately.
The Suicide Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME to 741741
Trillium Screening Triage and Referral – 1-877-685-2415