When someone is concerned that a child may have been hurt, abused or neglected in any way, the situation must be reported to DCYF. Proof of abuse and neglect is not required and reporting can be anonymous.
But parents who realize their child has been affected by any of the above traumas often fear that if they report their suspicions, the child could be taken from them. Or, that their child will be cross-examined and have to relate their traumatic experience to any number of people during the process, causing even more trauma.
These very real fears and concerns were instrumental in the forming of Child Advocacy Centers across the nation and in New Hampshire. Accredited by the National Children’s Alliance, the Granite State Children’s Alliance provides technical assistance, training and organizational resources to all Child Advocacy Centers in the state.
When abuse or trauma involving a child is reported, the child will be referred to one of New Hampshire’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC). Four such centers serve Sullivan and Grafton Counties, the closest located at 24 Tremont St. Claremont.
The CAC provides a safe, child-friendly environment and a trained, forensic interviewer (neutral third party) who is experienced and who will make the child as comfortable as possible during the interview to find out what happened. A child is never forced to talk. This national model means that the child is interviewed by one person and is not subjected to being questioned by a number of different entities at different times. This approach has been cited as best practice in the investigation of child abuse cases and ensures that all aspects of the case are examined and efforts are coordinated between the multi-disciplinary professionals.
Turning Points Network (TPN) offers a staff advocate to accompany non-offending parents bringing the child to the interview. The TPN advocate is not part of the investigative team, but provides support, referrals and information to the non-offending parents. For many parents, the allegation is a surprise and they are in shock. It can be difficult for parents and they may have questions. Though DCYF and the police are present, the experienced advocate can have a private conversation with parents.
CAC’s team approach and Turning Points Network strive to make what can be an uncomfortable process streamlined and supportive for children and non-offending parents seeking justice and healing. TPN and CAC partner to help non-offending parents to sort out the options, determine next steps and begin healing.
Depending on the situation, TPN provides emergency shelter, connects the parent and child(ren) to resources they may need and provides support for every step of the healing process. TPN’s wraparound services ensure that each family receives what they, specifically, need to reach individual goals, to feel safe and empowered, transition to sustainable housing and feel that they are an integral part of their community.
If you or someone you know would like more information call Turning Points Network’s Crisis and Support Line at 1.800.639.3130 anytime, 24/seven.
OUR TURN is a public service series made available by Turning Points Network in celebration of its 40th anniversary of providing violence-prevention education programs in our schools, services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and helping people move from the darkness of abuse toward the light of respect, healing and hope. For information contact 1.800.639.3130 or www.turningpointsnetwork.org or find us on Facebook.