In a criminal child abuse case, the perpetrator is usually someone close to the family or even someone who lives in the home. In fact, 90 percent of child abuse victims know, love and trust their abusers. The abuser may even be the primary breadwinner. Upon their arrest, the entire family is suddenly in crisis and at increased risk.
Non-offending family members must have support in order to protect their children and rebuild their lives. The Center’s Family Advocacy and Support Services Department is designed to meet short and long-term needs of non-offending caregivers by providing a consistent person clients can rely on to resolve concerns, provide information and refer them to needed resources in the community.
• Advocacy: Family Advocates work collaboratively with the MDT and non-offending family members to ensure that the client’s voice is heard. The caseworker acts as a “middle-man” between the MDT and the client to enhance communication.
• Support: Family Advocates provide emotional support for clients as they proceed through the judicial system. Caseworkers provide support before, during and after court proceedings involving the children and their non-offending family members.
• Information: Family Advocates provide information to clients regarding the status of their case and provide information to connect them to resources in the community.
• Assistance with tangible needs: Sometimes families are in financial crisis and need help with food, clothing, housing, employment, finances, and other issues. Advocates make appropriate referrals and access much-needed resources for clients in need.
The Family Advocacy and Support Services Department also includes the Rainbow Room, which provides new clothing, essential hygiene items and safety equipment to children that have been abused and neglected, including those entering foster care and kinship placements. These items are immediately available to children in crisis, and CPS caseworkers are able to access these items 24/7 for their clients as well.
The Family Advocacy team implements the annual Back-to-School Fair and Holiday Project. The Back-to-School Fair provides children served by the Center with all the essentials for the first day of school, including new shoes, haircuts, backpacks and supplies. The Holly Jolly Holiday Project provides children served by the Center and in protective care with holiday gifts which are contributed by corporate and individual supporters.
Interns are a critical part of the Family Advocacy team, allowing the Center to leverage every dollar spent on these essential programs. The Family Advocacy and Support Services Department offers up to 12 internships every semester, to help educate future social workers and other child welfare professionals, as well as ensure that our clients get the attention and care they need to be successful.