(MDT) is also known as Child Protective Investigative Team (CPIT in the state of Tennessee). A MDT response to child abuse allegations is an interagency coordinated response which includes representation from the following:
- Law Enforcement
- Child Protective Services
- Mental Health
- Victim Advocacy
- Children’s Advocacy Center
- Forensic Interviewer
- Juvenile Court
The Children’s Advocacy Center will coordinate the response team to ensure the child and their family is receiving non-duplicative services. The Center functions within a trauma-informed framework designed to reduce harm and support the healing of the victim. It is the mission of the CAC to help empower the parents and caregivers of the victims to protect and support the children throughout the life of the case and beyond.
The Children’s Center employs a Forensic Interviewer(s) who is professionally trained and specializes in interviewing children in a friendly and compassionate manner. The interviews are conducted to be developmentally and culturally responsive, unbiased and legally sound. The FI is coordinated through MDT to avoid duplicative interviewing and reduce stress on the victim. These interviews adhere to the most recent research and follow the National Children’s Advocacy Center model. In addition to our Forensic Interviewer(s), we have a certified facility dog, Orville. He is specially trained through Canine Companions to provide comfort and emotional support to our clients.
Medical Evaluation (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner)
The Center provides a medical specialist referred to as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner to perform physical exams on children who are suspected victims of child abuse. The Sexual Assault Nurse is a registered nurse who has completed specialized education and clinical preparation in medical forensic care of a patient. The information gathering is coordinated with the MDT to avoid duplication.
Evidence-based, trauma-focused mental health services are offered through the Children’s Center. This service is designed to meet the unique needs of the child and parents/caregivers. Many children who have experienced trauma may suffer on-going or long-term adverse social, emotional, developmental and health outcomes without therapeutic intervention. The CAC provides counseling needs to the child and parent as they move through the recovery stages.
All clients and their caregivers are provided victim support and advocacy services through the child advocacy center as a part of the multidisciplinary team response. VA services are essential to reducing trauma and improving outcomes for children and family members. The Advocates support the emotional, physical and education needs of the family and assist in navigating through the legal and where relevant, state constitutional victims’ rights and the various services in the area.
Relatives Raising Relatives
The Children’s Center strives to provide all encompassing services to our clients. Our Relatives Raising Relatives program provides case management services to grandparents and/or relative caregivers who are caring for abused and neglected children placed in their care. This program is designed to be a comprehensive system of information, referrals, and support services to ensure the child and caregiver experience a seamless transition. No referral is needed to participate in this program.
The Children’s Center offers an evidence-based and developmentally appropriate prevention program through the Monique Burr Foundation, Child Safety Matters. It educates and empowers elementary school students in grades K-5 with universal strategies and 5 Safety Rules that apply to bullying cyberbullying, digital dangers, and all types of abuse. The program includes many features that will benefit schools who want to help protect their students from bullying, abuse, and victimization. Children who receive the program have demonstrated a significant increase in their knowledge of potentially risky or unsafe situations. An adult-focused prevention training program called Darkness to Light Stewards of Children is also offered through the Center. This program focuses on improving the awareness of the prevalence, consequences, and circumstances of child sexual abuse. The facilitators are trained to educate adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual assault.