Safe Shores – The DC Children’s Advocacy Center provides comprehensive and coordinated services for children and families affected by physical and sexual abuse, and witnesses to violence in our Nation’s Capital. Safe Shores works with over 1,700 children and families every year to provide the following services:
Safe Shores’ Client Advocacy program is a family’s first point of contact at Safe Shores and works with children and their non-offending caregivers throughout the continuum of services to help families see and achieve a safe, new start. Client Advocacy provides crisis support and advocacy, continued support and follow-up, referrals to community services, and information on crime victims’ rights and programs to assist crime victims. Client Advocacy also works with families to provide transitional clothing, meals, financial assistance.
Adolescents between the ages of 13 to 17 in DC who have been sexually assaulted have rights under DC law, one of which is the right to an advocate. Safe Shores Youth Advocacy Specialists are there to help teens understand all of their options and support them in whatever choice they make. Some of the support a Youth Advocacy Specialist can provide include referrals to medical care, mental health care, or legal support. Youth Advocacy Specialists are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to the teen’s emergency needs.
Safe Shores’ Forensic Services team coordinates and conducts neutral, fact-finding, and developmentally sensitive interviews with children affected by abuse and witnesses to violence. In partnership with the Multidisciplinary Team agencies, our highly trained forensic team conducts one-on-one interviews with children, while team members watch on closed-circuit television, in order to not overwhelm the child while at the same time gathering as much information for various partners. Our goal is to ensure that the voices of children are heard and to prevent the need for a child to tell his or her story more than once.
Safe Shores’ Clinical Services Program helps families on the road to healing from trauma and abuse by providing trauma-informed mental health services. The Clinical Services team provides a safe space for children to identify and overcome challenges, develop positive coping skills and build healthy relationships through talk therapy, play therapy, art therapy, sand-tray therapy and other modalities provided to child victims, their non-offending caregivers, and siblings.
Prevention and Outreach
Safe Shores’ prevention efforts are rooted in the belief the adults are the first line of defense in protecting children from abuse. Utilizing evidence-informed curricula, including Stewards of Children®, Safe Shores provides adults with information about the impact of child abuse and child trauma and equips them with skills to recognize, respond to and prevent abuse. Our Prevention and Outreach Program also hosts a Caregiver Support Group for non-offending caregivers looking for information and peer support while caring for a child that has been sexually abused.
Safe Shores utilizes the above services to respond to child sexual abuse as part of a multi-disciplinary team of experts.