Child Advocacy Centre
Our Child Advocacy Centre is a child-focused, facility-based programme in which representatives from many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.
Blossom Incorporated’s Child Advocacy Centres enables a child-focused, facility-based programme in which representatives from many disciplines, including law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child abuse cases.
The East Bank Demerara and Region Two Child Advocacy Centres are managed by Blossom Incorporated and support a highly effective, nationally recognized one-stop approach to child sexual abuse response.
- To provide a safe space where children will only have to tell professionals of the sexual abuse they have experienced once thus reducing the trauma of the experience.
- To provide evidence-based trauma informed mental health therapy to the victim and non-offending family members to begin the healing process.
- To increase the successful prosecutions of perpetrators.
Blossom Incorporated managed Children Advocacy Centres
Child Focus Setting
The Blossom Incorporated Managed Children Advocacy Centres (CAC) offer a child-focused setting designed to provide a safe, comfortable and neutral place where forensic interviews and other CAC services can be appropriately provided for children and families
Forensic interviews are coordinated to avoid duplicative interviewing and are recorded. The interviews are developmentally appropriate forensic interviews with child sexual abuse victims. Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner that is developmentally and culturally sensitive, unbiased, fact-finding and legally sound method of gathering information regarding allegations of sexual abuse. These interviews are done by National Child Advocacy Centre (NCAC), USA, trained Forensic Interviewers and observed by a Multi-Disciplinary Team comprising professionals from the Guyana Police Force, the Childcare and Protection Agency, Mental Health and Victim Advocate Services that provide guidance based on the information collected to determine if a case can be brought against the perpetrator.
Blossom Incorporated coordinates a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) approach from the time of reporting to the investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. The Centres serve as the meeting place where team members gather to begin the investigation process. MDTs coordinate intervention so as to reduce potential trauma to children and families and improve services overall, while preserving and respecting the rights, mandates and obligations of each agency. Blossom Incorporated MDT consists of representatives from:
- Childcare and Protection Agency
- Guyana Police Force
- Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecution
- Ministry of Public Health
- Blossom Incorporated
Mental Health Service
Blossom Incorporated provides evidence based trauma informed therapies – Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Trauma Focused Integrated Play Therapy – to the victim and non-offending family members. Since the CAC’s mission is to promote healing, protect the child and provide justice, the common focus of the MDT is to foster healing by minimizing potential trauma to children. Therefore, the intervention begins at first contact with the child and family. Without effective therapeutic intervention, many traumatized children will suffer ongoing or long-term adverse social, emotional, developmental and health outcomes that may impact them throughout their lifetimes. Evidenced-based treatments and other practices with strong empirical support reduce the impact of trauma and the risk of future abuse.
All children who are suspected victims of child sexual abuse are entitled to a medical evaluation by a provider with specialized training. The collection and documentation of possible forensically significant findings are vital. Since Blossom Incorporated managed CACs don’t have a facility for sexual abuse medical examinations, referrals are done for specialised sexual abuse medical examinations to the public health facilities.
Victim Support and Advocacy Services
Parent/caregiver support is essential to reducing trauma and improving outcomes for children and family members. Client access to, and participation in, investigation, prosecution, treatment, and support services are a core component of the MDT response, as encouraged by coordinated victim advocacy services. Up-to-date information and ongoing access to comprehensive services are critical to a child and family’s comfort and ability to participate in an ongoing investigation, possible prosecution, intervention and treatment. As a part of the organisation’s response, victims and family members are prepared and supported before and during the judicial process.
The MDT conducts quarterly case reviews. The Case Review is the formal process that enables the MDT to monitor and assess its independent and collective effectiveness so as to ensure the safety and well being of children and families. The process encourages mutual accountability and helps to ensure that children’s needs are met sensitively, effectively and in a timely manner.
Blossom Incorporated managed Children’s Advocacy Centres have developed and implemented a system for monitoring case progress and tracking case outcomes for all Multi-Disciplinary Team components. Case tracking systems provide essential demographic information, case information, and investigation/intervention outcomes. Case tracking can be used for program evaluation (e.g., identifying areas for continuous quality improvement and assessing ongoing case progress and outcomes) and generating statistical reports.
Cultural Competency and Diversity
The Blossom Incorporated Children’s Advocacy Centres provide culturally competent services to all clients throughout the duration of the case. Cultural competency is defined as the capacity to function in more than one culture, requiring the ability to appreciate, understand and interact with members of diverse populations within the local community. Like developmental considerations, cultural norms influence nearly every aspect of working with children and families, such as welcoming a child and family to the centre, employing effective forensic interviewing techniques, assessing the likelihood of abuse, providing appropriate mental health services and securing services that are relevant and accessible to a child and family.
Blossom Incorporated is a not for profit organisation which is governed by a Board of Directors and By Laws. There are written administrative policies and procedures which apply to staff, board members, volunteers and clients. The organisation promotes employee well-being by providing training and information regarding the effects of vicarious trauma. It provides techniques for building resiliency and maintaining organizational and supervisory strategies to address vicarious trauma and its impact on staff.