Imagine what it is like to be a child immersed in a frightening world through no fault of your own, but because you have been the victim of child abuse. In communities without a Child Advocacy Center, when a child is abused and finally finds the courage to tell someone about it, he/she is required to participate in multiple interviews, in places like police departments, each time reliving the horrors of the abuse. This process causes unnecessary trauma to many children, making it impossible for them to find the strength to testify in court. Child abusers may go free when their victims cannot testify.
Mission Kids provides a center for the team investigation of child abuse cases. Child abuse victims are interviewed in a child-friendly setting by a specially trained forensic interviewer. The 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 2017 alone, Mission Kids provided over 579 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. The program provides victims and their non-offending caregivers with the support, information and resources they need. Mission Kids’ Family Advocates assist the families in scheduling medical and mental health evaluations. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) has partnered with Mission Kids to open a nearby clinic, specializing in child abuse. This alleviates the need for victims to travel downtown in order to receive nationally recognized medical care and improves access to more efficient delivery of the medical services required by abused children. Mission Kids has also partnered with several local Mental Health Care providers to evaluate and treat our clients.
Education and community outreach are the cornerstones of prevention of child abuse. Mission Kids is committed to reaching out to the diverse communities in Montgomery County to educate them about the signs of child abuse and how to protect children. 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.