By/ Amanda Davis Scott/
The Lenawee County Child Advocacy Center (LCCAC) provides services for children who have been sexually and/or severely physically abused. It is said, “Child sexual abuse is likely the most prevalent health problem with the most serious array of consequences that children face.”1 The essence of the LCCAC is a single forensic interview in a child-friendly environment, reducing the trauma a child may experience when he/she has to talk repeatedly about the abuse. This protects the child from further harm or re-victimization that results from multiple interviews in a variety of physical environments by various professionals (child protective services, police, prosecutors, etc.). While each agency has protocols and procedures to intervene in these cases, current research shows that providing a more standardized, multidisciplinary approach to better protect and treat the children yields better outcomes for everyone involved2. At LCCAC, the victim and their non-offending caregiver(s) are provided services considered “best practice” standard, with early intervention, thorough one-time interview by a highly-trained professional, a collaborative Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) approach to investigation, crisis management, and long-term therapeutic services options. This process has been very successful not only in increased rates of prosecution, but also in providing the help and resources necessary for the child victim and their non-offending caregiver(s) to heal. The availability of these services for victims of abuse dramatically reduces the likelihood that they will become abusers themselves or will engage in other delinquent or otherwise unlawful behavior. Also, the LCCAC services are provided at no cost to children and their families at our child-friendly site, enabling them to receive coordinated and supportive professional services necessary to help them.
Any child can become the victim of child abuse. This includes anyone from birth through 18 years of age. The incidence of sexual abuse and/or several physical abuse, unfortunately, has no boundaries. The statistics on number of reported cases of child abuse or neglect are staggering. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that there was a 4.2% increase in cases since 20113. In Michigan, during 2015, there were 149,114 total referrals for child abuse and neglect; 93,646 of those reports were referred for investigation4. The LCCAC serves any child referred there for services. Referrals come from the various professionals (Law Enforcement or Child Protective Services) who make up the MDT.
Along with the interview process, LCCAC Staff focuses on assisting the victim with crisis counseling and referrals for ongoing therapeutic/counseling services. The non-offending caregivers of the abuse victims are also served through the programming at the LCCAC. They are guided through the steps of what to expect during any investigation and court proceedings and are provided referrals for counseling services and other supportive resources needed, since their acceptance of the situation and understanding of the need for healing is paramount to ensure the child receives the ongoing care they need.
The main service provided at the LCCAC is the forensic interview conducted in a child-friendly atmosphere. This is performed by a specialized professional. The whole MDT works behinds the scene before, during and after the interview to provide a cohesive approach to the investigation, making the process less traumatic, thorough and efficient. The Center serves as a central meeting place for the MDT. Additional services provided through the Center include crisis counseling for immediate mental health support, referrals for long-term counseling services, referrals for medical examinations, and other referrals, as necessary. The entire MDT and the Staff at the LCCAC prioritizes the child’s best interest to help minimize the impact from the abusive situation.
The Lenawee County Child Advocacy Center (LCCAC) mission is to offer a safe, child-appropriate environment in which the victims of sexual abuse or severe physical abuse can more comfortably relay their experience to the investigative team without being revictimized by needing to repeat their story multiple times. The collaborative team approach keeps the child’s best interest at heart and helps ensure a smoother pathway toward healing. The child and non-offending caregivers are served through crisis counseling, as well as referrals for ongoing therapy and medical examinations. The services provided through the LCCAC are provided at no cost to the families we serve there.
The Lenawee County Child Advocacy Center will be hosting a conference on April 26th 2019 from 9am-12p at the Adrian Armory. The speaker is Jenna Quinn a survivor of child sexual abuse and advocate for survivors. Please consider attending this free event and Stand against Child Sexual Abuse.
You can register for the conference by clicking here
1 Townsend, C. (2013). Prevalence and consequences of child sexual abuse compared with other childhood experiences. Charleston, S.C., Darkness to Light. Retrieved from www.D2L.org.
2 Nwogu, N. N., Agrawal, L., Chambers, S., Buagas, A. B., Daniele, R. M., & Singleton, J. K. (2015). Effectiveness of Child Advocacy Centers and the multidisciplinary team approach on prosecution rates of alleged sex offenders and satisfaction of non?offending caregivers with allegations of child sexual abuse: A systematic review. JBI database of systematic reviews and implementation reports, 13(12), 93-129.
3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2016). Child Maltreatment 2014: Report from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System: Table 3-3: Child Victims, 2010-2014. Retrieved January 28, 2016 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2014.pdf.
4 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2016). Child Maltreatment 2014: Reports from the States to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System: Table 2-1: Screened-In and Screened-Out Referrals, 2014. Retrieved January 28, 2016 from http://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2014.pdf.
6 Townsend, C., & Rheingold, A.A., (2013). Estimating a child sexual abuse prevalence rate for practitioners: studies. Charleston, S.C., Darkness to Light. Retrieved from www.D2L.org.
Amanda Davis-Scott MS, MA, LPC, CAADC: Amanda is the Program Director for the Lenawee County Child Advocacy Center. Amanda holds a Bachelor’s degree in family life education from Spring Arbor University, a Master’s degree in counseling also from Spring Arbor University, and a Master’s degree in criminal justice with a specialization in forensic psychology from Tiffin University. Amanda is passionate about trauma work and working to advocate and educate others about trauma, the importance of understanding what trauma is, and how it affects individuals and families. Amanda serves on many boards and committees within our community, which include Great Start Readiness Board of Directors, Adrian Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, H.E.R Refuge Board of Directors, and Zonta of Lenawee Board of Directors. She is also Co-Chair of the At Risk Services Collaborative, Co-Chair of the Lenawee County Trauma Clinicians Group, Chair of the Education Committee for the Adrian Symphony Orchestra, Member of the Counseling Committee through H.E.R Refuge, Member of the American Counseling Association, and a member of the National Association for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Counselors. Amanda lives in Adrian Michigan with her Husband James and their Twin Daughters Everleigh and Mirabelle.