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Child Advocacy Center: Information For Parents

Central Minnesota Child Advocacy CenterWho We Are

The Child Advocacy Center is making it possible to offer a "one-stop approach" for children and their families. Children will no longer need to tell their story of abuse over and over again.

The multidisciplinary team at the Child Advocacy Center includes:

  • Law Enforcement
  • Child and Family Advocates
  • Medical Professionals
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Prosecuting Attorneys
  • Child Protection/Social Workers

What We Do

The Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center helps children when there is a concern of child abuse. It serves to preserve the dignity and spirit of the child by supporting, advocating for and educating families.

A team of individuals with backgrounds in child abuse investigations work together to help ensure that children and their families get access to appropriate medical and mental health services right away. This multidisciplinary team approach was established to place the child’s interest first and to ensure that they receive supportive care through the entire process.

At the Child Advocacy Center

Before the official interview, a team member will talk with you to learn about your child. Your child will then be taken to a separate room to complete the forensic interview. The interviewer may be male or female.

Forensic Interview

The forensic interview will be:

  • Confidential
  • Video-recorded and observed by the rest of the professionals on the multidisciplinary team
  • Child-sensitive and nonthreatening

Caregivers are typically not allowed to observe the interview because it is part of the investigation.

Child and Family Advocacy

While your child is being interviewed, you will meet with a Child and Family Advocate who will:

  • Provide you with information about abuse, how it may affect your child and family, and what you can do to help
  • Provide you with referral information to helpful community resources
  • Make mental health referrals as needed for your family members
  • Provide ongoing information and support to you and your child during the investigative process

After the interview, you and your child may discuss medical care and concerns with a pediatric nurse and provider. Your child may have a medical exam at the Center to ensure overall health.

Medical Exam

Your child may be offered a medical exam at the center to ensure overall health. This is often a first step in your child's healing process as it can provide reassurance and let them know that their body is okay. The medical exam will entail:

  • A discussion of your child's medical history, family history, medications and social history
  • A weight, height and blood pressure check
  • A head-to-toe check-up of your child by a pediatric provider
  • Recommendations for your child's overall health

The provider may use an instrument called a colposcope during the genital exam. This can be described as a microscope with a light source and a camera attached. The provider will not complete any part of the exam that your child does not want them to do.

Note: You will not receive a bill for any of the services provided to you from the Child Advocacy Center. Your insurance may be billed, but the remaining balance will be sent back to the Child Advocacy Center. Please contact your Child & Family Advocate if you receive a bill in error.

The Process

After the interview and medical exam, you will meet with the team members to discuss their involvement in the process and what will happen next. They will explain what they can about the interview and medical exam. You may also receive recommendations from the team and you will receive a list of your team members along with contact information for each.

Preparing Your Child

Try to:

  • Tell your child they will be visiting a safe and comfortable place
  • Make sure your child is well-rested
  • Give your child permission to talk with the interviewer and let them know it is okay to talk about anything
  • Bring your child’s comfort item if you feel that would be helpful

Try not to:

  • Ask your child questions about the situation or repeatedly bring up the topic
  • Coach or advise your child on what to say or how to act
  • Ask why your child didn’t tell you sooner
  • Promise rewards to your child for talking

Talking About the Situation

Listen

  • Stay calm and neutral
  • Don't offer names of possible offenders or acts of abuse
  • Listen supportively, but do not ask for details of the situation
  • Show interest, but try not to react with shock or indifference

Support

  • Allow your child to tell in their own way and in their own time
  • Tell your child that you believe them and that you are proud of them that they told someone
  • Assure your child that it is not their fault

After Your Visit to the Child Advocacy Center

The team will be in contact with you for follow-up information and assistance with the process. You are encouraged to contact the Child and Family Advocate for information related to any follow-up appointments as needed and may contact any of your team members with questions. Team members will continue to work with you and your child to address your needs and safety concerns.

For More Information

Contact the Child Advocacy Center at 320-229-5105.

Mailing Address:

Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center
166 19th St. S, Ste. 202
Sartell, MN 56377

For Donations:

Reach Program Director, Katie Boecker at the phone number above. 

Finding a Child Advocacy Center

For information regarding any of Minnesota’s Child Advocacy Center’s, please visit the Minnesota Children’s Alliance website.

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