What is a Children's Advocacy Center?

Hopeful Horizons has a nationally accredited Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) that offers a range of services to parents, children, schools and a variety of individuals and organizations throughout our community. 

Hopeful Horizons serves families in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton, Jasper and Allendale Counties. 

The CAC works to prevent the re-victimization of sexually abused children by the system’s response to cases. Hopeful Horizons works with community agency partners involved in a particular case — including medical, legal, law enforcement, educators, social services, guardians ad litem, and mental health — to take appropriate action as quickly as possible. Case coordination occurs through bi-monthly multidisciplinary team (MDT) staffing, where professionals give input into the assessment of needs and the development of safety and treatment plans. Recommendations and updates regarding protection, case management, prosecution and needed services are discussed by the staffing team and the progress of each case is monitored through the MDT process. This MDT approach increases coordination, decreases duplication which result in more positive case outcomes for children and families.

2019 National Report on Outcomes for Children's Advocacy Centers

2019 Annual Report from the SC Network for Children's Advocacy Centers

Forensic Interviews

A forensic interview is a neutral, fact-finding interview that is done when there is a concern about abuse. The interview is done in a comfortable, child-friendly setting by Hopeful Horizon’s Forensic Interviewers, who are trained in the nationally-recognized ChildFirst® Forensic Interview Protocol. With the coordination of our community partners, care is taken to ensure that a child only has to tell their story one time, while protecting the integrity of the case for investigation and prosecution.

Forensic interviews can only be requested by DSS or Law Enforcement. Hopeful Horizons cannot complete forensic interviews at the request of parents, guardians or school personnel.

Trauma Assessment

Children who have experienced abuse or trauma are at increased risk for developing emotional and behavioral difficulties. A trauma assessment includes an evaluation of common difficulties children may have. This appointment lasts approximately 1.5 hours and includes the caregiver and child, each meeting with a trained therapist. In addition, caregivers and children ages 7 and older will answer questionnaires about the child’s emotions and behaviors. The results are used to help guide recommendations for the child and family. Trauma assessments are provided at no cost to the child or family.

Hopeful Horizons' staff are experts in child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault and the trauma associated with this violence and abuse.

 

Hopeful Horizons' therapists are trained and certified in evidence-based trauma treatments, are licensed and have Master's degrees in social work/counseling. Our Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) is nationally accredited and as such the staff has to meet the National Children's Alliance standards for providing mental health services to victims of child abuse.

Therapy & Treatment

At Hopeful Horizons, we are committed to using treatments that have been proven in research to be effective. Based on the needs identified in the mental health assessment, children and their caregivers find the services they need at Hopeful Horizons or are referred to programs available elsewhere in the community.

Hopeful Horizons' staff are experts in child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault and the trauma associated with this violence and abuse. Hopeful Horizons' therapists are trained and certified in evidence-based trauma treatments, are licensed and have Master's degrees in social work/counseling. Our Children's Advocacy Center (CAC) is nationally accredited and as such the staff has to meet the National Children's Alliance standards for providing mental health services to victims of child abuse.

  • Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention Therapy (CFTSI): The Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI) is a family strengthening intervention that aims to reduce early post‐traumatic stress symptoms; to decrease the likelihood of traumatized children developing long‐term post‐traumatic psychiatric disorders; and to identify children who need longer‐term mental health care. 

Child Abuse Medical Evaluation

When children experience abuse, they and their protective caregivers often have concerns about their bodies. Hopeful Horizons is able to provide referrals if a medical evaluation is needed due to abuse. In any child abuse case, the collection of physical evidence is critical and a specialized medical provider can expertly collect evidence that can be very helpful in investigation and prosecution. 

Advocacy

Hopeful Horizons has Family Advocates who meet with parents and caregivers to help explain the process of services and case coordination. Family Advocates help parents understand the system and professionals involved in a case and help connect children and families with resources, such as therapy, legal help and medical help. Families receive routine follow up calls from our Family Advocates who will help assess the ongoing needs of the families and children.