The FAMCare Blog

Kristi House

Posted by GVT Admin on Jun 28, 2023 10:30:00 AM

woman holding a child's hand At a recent Barrett-Jackson collector car auction in Las Vegas, a “resto-mod” was auctioned off for the benefit of Kristi House in Miami, Florida. We immediately put out an inquiry to our readers for more information about Kristi House and were deluged with responses.

They informed us that Kristi House is the state-designated Children’s Advocacy Center responsible for coordinating all child sexual abuse cases in Miami-Dade County working with its partner agencies. Kristi House was named in honor of a nine-year-old girl who was impregnated by her stepfather and had no idea how to seek help or even tell her story. Her pregnancy, however, brought her attention, and she got the help she needed while, at the same time, inspiring social workers to establish a Child Advocacy Center in her name.

Child Advocacy Center

The case workers and therapists at Kristi House coordinate with the State Attorney’s office, the University of Miami Child Protection Team, the Department of Children and Families, the Jackson Hospital Rape Treatment Center, the Miami-Dade County Police Department, and the Guardian ad Litem appointed by the court to provide an immediate, safe, child-focused environment where police or child protective services can bring a child when they believe the child is being abused.

At Kristi House CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not re-traumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions about how to help the child based on the interview.

Sadly, since there was no Kristi House before Kristi, the original Kristi had a challenging 20 years before she found her way back to Kristi House where therapists eagerly provided the healing therapy that her own case had inspired twenty years earlier.

Family Advocates

Kristi House Family Advocates work directly with families to determine the needs of children and families, make referrals for needed services, assist families in accessing those services, and assist in the coordination of services with agencies in the center and community to help reduce system trauma.

Case workers ensure that child sexual abuse victims and their families receive:

  • all necessary services applicable to their unique situations
  • access to treatment that is individually tailored to the specific clinical needs of the child and family
  • victim advocacy and court support
  • system coordination: linking legal, medical, and emotional supports.

Kristi House also provides a food pantry of non-perishable foods and household supplies for its families to help them overcome the upheaval and turmoil wrought by allegations of abuse.

Child Advocacy Centers

With national studies finding that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused by the age of 18, and 1 out of 2 children suffer some type of trauma during their childhood, Child Advocacy Centers like Kristi House have been opened in almost every state.  They coordinate the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases by utilizing multidisciplinary teams of professionals involved in child protective and victim advocacy services, law enforcement and prosecution, and physical and mental health.

All Children's Advocacy Centers must include the following components:

  • Child-appropriate facility.
  • Multidisciplinary team.
  • Designated legal entity responsible for program and fiscal operations.
  • Culturally competent policies and practices.
  • Forensic interviews conducted in an objective, nonduplicative manner.
  • Medical evaluation and treatment.
  • Therapeutic intervention.
  • Victim support/advocacy.
  • Case review and tracking.

Four regional centers provide consultation, training and technical assistance services to communities that are developing local centers, as well as services to strengthen existing centers. The regional centers work cooperatively with the National Children's Alliance, which provides national leadership and advocacy for local centers.

Look what came out of the kindness and care for one little girl!

Topics: Child Welfare, Family and Child Welfare

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