Child Advocacy Center
Abuse is something that no child should have to experience. But if concerns arise, the best thing we can do for that child or adolescent is respond to them in the best way possible. At the STAR Child Advocacy Center, we offer a safe and neutral place for children to talk to a trained professional about their experiences.
Our Team Approach
Prior to the formation of the Child Advocacy Center, parents often did not know where to get help for an abused child. Often the child was questioned multiple times about their abuse by different investigating agencies. To better serve children and investigate these crimes, the STAR Child Advocacy Center offers tools for law enforcement and the Department of Human Services (DHS) to encourage collaboration to minimize the number of times a child needs to be questioned about potential abuse, receive a medical exam, and have access to advocacy and mental health services at no cost to the family.
Victims of child abuse are either too young or too afraid to talk about the pain of abusive trauma. They need someone to help them start a process of healing. Our team at the Blank Children's STAR Center gives abused children a new hope for healing from abuse. Our specialists work with the community to protect children.
Referrals to the center are made by the Department of Human Services (DHS), law enforcement agencies, and private physicians. The STAR Child Advocacy Center does not replicate any existing community services. The center may also accept referrals where a developmentally dependent adult is the alleged victim.
Family Advocacy Services
Oftentimes families find themselves at our appointments with concerns and questions. Family advocacy services assist families as they navigate through the criminal justice system. The family advocacy services can also assist in providing referrals to a wide array of services such as shelter, victim compensation, therapy, and legal services.
Mental Health Services
The Blank Children's STAR Center understands that children thrive when their caregivers are at their best. We are committed to serving children and their families in all facets, including providing mental health counseling. Our licensed mental health therapist is on staff to provide intervention and long term therapy to families and children free of charge.
A forensic interview is a one-time interview conducted by a skilled professional who has been trained to understand children's language and developmental level in order to gather information from the child in a non-threatening and non-suggestive manner. The forensic interview is beneficial in giving kids and teenagers a safe space to talk about allegations of abuse as well as assisting in investigations for law enforcement and the Department of Human Services (DHS).
Forensic Medical Examination
A forensic medical examination is a specialized sexual abuse exam that also includes a general physical exam. The medical examination is conducted by a licensed nurse practitioner or physician. The forensic medical examination can be a helpful tool in showing children that their body is normal and healthy. The exams may include evidence collection which will be discussed before the exam is performed. Our experienced professionals make the appointment as child-friendly as possible while explaining the process as they go.
About the Blank Children's STAR Center
The STAR Center enables a multi-disciplinary team of professionals to work together in the investigation, treatment and prosecution of child abuse cases in central Iowa. The STAR Center brings together a team of specialists skilled in the medical and psychosocial assessment of abused children. Additional pediatric specialists at Blank Children's Hospital and the STAR Center are available for consultation and medical treatment as needed. Most importantly, these services are all offered in an easy to access, child-friendly environment with professionals who put the child's health, well-being and safety first.