When you walk into the Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center in Fort Collins, you can’t miss the colored paper people cover the wall. When a child client comes in, they are encouraged to color a person and stick it anywhere they want.
“When an adult sees just how many people there are all over the walls of the center they feel shocked and sad,” Fallbeck said. “But when a child sees how many colored people there are, they know that they are not alone.”
Voices Carry is a nonprofit whose mission is to “reduce trauma to children and their families through a comprehensive response to child abuse while making our community safer for all children.”
“When you’re dealing with something as traumatic as child abuse, and particularly child sexual abuse, telling and reliving the story that many times becomes itself a source of trauma,” said the center’s executive director Robert Fallbeck. “We do our best to prevent child abuse and when we can’t prevent it we respond to it in a compassionate and comprehensive way.”
The center’s atmosphere intentionally avoids an “institutional” feeling so children and their families can feel safe and comfortable while going through such difficult times.
“Our intent is to create a safe space here for both the child and the non-offending caregivers,” said Fallbeck.
The center employs forensic interviewers, a prevention team to educate at local schools, and a pediatrician who gives physical examinations. Tera Stenson is a forensic interviewer and family advocate at the child advocacy center.
“I’m working with the kiddos one-on-one while the detective and case worker are watching me in the other room,” said Stenson. “The interview is recorded and then it becomes part of the evidence for the investigation.”
Eventually that interview may become evidence for the prosecution of a perpetrator. Voices Carry works to keep the interviews to a one-time affair. They say it’s a much more human approach to a situation that is often anything but.
For more information about Voices Carry Child Advocacy Center or to volunteer, click here.
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