Spotlight on our Family Support Specialist, Elizabeth Breedlove!

Blog post written by: Elizabeth Scott Breedlove, Family Support Specialist Graduate Intern at the Child Protection Center. Elizabeth is also a Master’s of Social Work student at the University of Kansas.

Elizabeth is finishing up her internship with the CPC this month, and volunteered to write this blog post in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Thank you, Elizabeth!

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I have been working in mental health for the past 10 years. My career began with adolescent psychology within the school district and individual clientele’s homes to working with acute care crisis adult patients with severe and persistent mental illness in an inpatient setting and dual diagnosis clients in an outpatient setting. I began to notice that many of my patients were coming to me with a history of sexual abuse. I began to realize that my patients had survived very serious abuse that had gone untreated, unreported, and gravely misunderstood.

Realizing that I was very much a part of this misunderstanding, when I began my Master’s program at KU, I requested to work with victims of sexual abuse and their families first hand. This brought me to my first experience working inside a Child Advocacy Center. I am trained as a Family Support Specialist at the Child Protection Center (CPC). I meet with the non-offending family members/care-providers of a child who has been sexually abused, physically abused, or witnessed a homicide. I provide these courageous families with support and crisis counseling to meet them in their moment of grief and hardship. I also provide families with resources they might not have had access to, such as referrals for counseling, clothing, shelter, and mental health services.

From my experience interning at CPC, I now feel that I will be able to better serve my clients and patients in my future social work career. I have also been exposed to the education of child sexual abuse and its prevalence and effects – which has enabled me to raise awareness in the classroom and among my colleagues. This experience has truly been invaluable.

During National Child Abuse Prevention month I have continually been encouraging the parents that come in to talk openly to their children about keeping their bodies safe. When these issues are openly discussed at home by caregivers, then a child feels free to ask questions that may be confusing for a child. It also creates a safe atmosphere in which a child feels they can tell their caregivers if something is making them uncomfortable that otherwise a parent may not have known.

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“Judge approves forensic interview for rape victim”

This following news article by Rapid City Journal in South Dakota: “Judge approves forensic interview for rape victim” demonstrates the importance of providing forensic interviews to victims of abuse. The girl in the article should have been provided a forensic interview that was properly recorded, two years ago. Unfortunately, she was not provided this opportunity. Now, two years later, she is being possibly pressured to share her story once again in order for justice to be delivered. Forensic interviewers serving at Child Advocacy Centers are specially trained to conduct interviews with children. At Child Advocacy Centers, forensic interviews are recorded so that children only have to share their story once, and avoid the trauma of having to share their story multiple times. Recording interviews also preserves a child’s statement for legal purposes. In this way, children’s voices are heard and honored.

What are your thoughts about this situation? Click here to read the full article. Please leave a comment below.

Elizabeth Smart recognizes the importance of Child Advocacy Centers

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An Evening With Elizabeth Smart, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, KCTV5’s Bonyen Lee interviewing Elizabeth Smart

Last year, Elizabeth Smart came to Kansas City share her story. As a survivor of child abuse and abduction, Elizabeth recognizes the importance of child advocacy centers. Examiner.com reports “When [Elizabeth] was discovered with and rescued from her captors, her family wrapped her in a cocoon of protection from the media, but [Elizabeth] was still required to answer question after question from investigators, prosecutors and others representing the legal system….[Elizabeth] expressed her belief that if a child protective center—like the one in Kansas City—had been available to her, it would have helped move the justice system more quickly and could have made the process easier to navigate.” Click here to read more of the article.

The Child Protection Center is the only nationally-accredited child advocacy center serving Jackson and Cass Counties in Missouri. We are so thankful that Elizabeth Smart traveled to Kansas City last year to promote the importance of child advocacy centers!

How does the Children’s Advocacy Center model work?

Ever wonder how a child advocacy center (CAC) works? CACs coordinate multidisciplinary team members to provides services to children and their caretakers throughout the investigation of abuse. Check out this great info graphic to understand how CACs coordinate services! The core function of CACs are captured in blue.

How do CACs work

Child Advocacy Center Spotlight

Centre County, PA experienced heartbreak as news about the Jerry Sandusky scandal surfaced. Centre County will be opening a child advocacy center next week. We are relieved that children who have experienced abuse in Centre County now have a safe place to turn to, a safe place that will honor their voices.

BELLEFONTE, Pa. — “After years of work, and as the dust continues to settle in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal, officials in Centre County have opened a new facility designed to help children who may be victims of sexual abuse. The project to create a child advocacy center in the Centre region started just days after Jerry Sandusky was arrested in November 2011. He was later convicted. On Monday, county leaders and local officials gathered to showcase the new center.”

Read more here: http://www.wjactv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/child-advocacy-center-now-open-centre-co-1615.shtml

BELLEFONTE — “A child traumatized by abuse or neglect in Centre County might once have been interviewed a police officer. Later, she might tell her story again to a social worker. then to a doctor or a psychologist. Before she was even old enough for preschool, she might have to talk about the most horrible moments of her life half a dozen times before she even started to get help. With the opening of the Centre County Children’s Advocacy Center in Bellefonte on Monday, the experience changes to a child-focused single stop that aims to get past the hard part and begin the healing.”

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2014/02/10/4029113/centre-county-opens-child-advocacy.html#storylink=cpy