Mission Kids provides a center for the team investigation of child abuse cases. Forensic interviews are conducted in a manner that is legally sound, neutral, fact-finding, and coordinated to avoid repeated interviews and trauma to the child. Representatives of the DA’s Office, law enforcement and social services work together as a multidisciplinary team and observe, but do not participate in the interview as it takes place, thereby reducing the number of interviews a child victim must undergo. This team approach supports and protects children throughout the legal process, preserving their physical and emotional well-being. The investigation process is compassionate with respect and well-being of the child of the utmost importance.
In 2018 alone, Mission Kids provided 600 Forensic Interviews to victims of alleged sexual abuse and severe physical abuse.
Even after the Forensic Interview, Mission Kids continues to support the children and families it serves through its Family Advocacy Program. This program is designed to meet short and long-term needs of children and their families. We do this by providing a consistent advocate they can rely on to resolve concerns, provide resources in the community, and support as they proceed through the criminal justice and child welfare systems.
Family Advocates provide services such as:
Advocacy: Family Advocates work collaboratively with the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) and caregivers to ensure that the child’s voice is heard.
Support: Family Advocates provide emotional support for clients who have disclosed abuse as they proceed through the judicial system and child welfare systems.
Information: Family Advocates provide clients with status updates regarding criminal investigations and prosecution. Advocates also provide aid in connecting them to resources in the community.
Assistance with tangible needs: Sometimes, families are in financial crisis and need help with food, clothing, housing, employment, finances, and other aspects of living. Family Advocates help coordinate services and gather resources to make sure families’ needs are met. We also partner with Laurel House to provide families with immediate shelter and longer term housing needs if they are experiencing violence in their home.
Through Mission Kids’ Family Advocates, all caregivers are given information about Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) services and provided with referrals when appropriate. Mission Kids currently partners with several highly-qualified mental health agencies in our county, including Creative Health Services, Children’s Crisis Treatment Center, and Martin Luther Silver Springs. Over the course of treatment, specialized mental health clinicians help children and their families recover and heal from traumatic events. Using trauma informed-therapy methods, children learn healthy ways to express their feelings and to talk about what happened to them. Caregivers are involved in the therapy process to develop a clearer understanding of how trauma affects their child, and learn tools to help them communicate with and support their child throughout the healing process.
In July 2018, Mission Kids partnered with Creative Health Services to bring an experienced trauma clinician on-site to provide mental health treatment at our centrally-located, child friendly facility. This ensures that children who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or who have witnessed violent crime will have a seamless healing experience throughout their therapeutic intervention process.
Mission Kids also partners with Children’s Crisis Treatment Center (CCTC) to provide a bi-weekly Caregiver Education & Support Group that assists caregivers in developing an understanding related to trauma, the symptoms that occur following a trauma, how trauma impacts children of different age ranges, and the impact of trauma on families. The group focuses on providing a safe place for caregivers to come together as a group to participate in activities and discussions that support them in gaining the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to help their families stabilize and recover from traumatic and stressful experiences.
Mission Kids refers children to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) ‘CARE’ Clinic that specializes in child abuse. Centrally-located in King of Prussia, this location alleviates the need for children and their families to travel downtown to Philadelphia in order to receive nationally recognized medical care and improves access to more efficient delivery of the medical services required by children who may have experienced abuse.
By growing and expanding our educational outreach services, Mission Kids is working to empower local communities to recognize, report, and support victims of child abuse.
Support of the community is crucial to Mission Kids’ continued success as we continue to provide healing and hope to the children and families we serve every day.