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Let’s Celebrate our County Government | Children’s Cove: The Cape and Islands Children’s Advocacy Center! 

By on April 22, 2021 in Recent News

It’s National County Government Month and that means it’s time to celebrate our county government and the services our departments offer. Learn more about how Children’s Cove supports our region.

Learn about what the Children’s Cove: The Cape and Islands Children’s Advocacy Center  does from Jacob Stapledon, Community Engagement and Education Coordinator:

Q: What is the mission of your department?

A: Children’s Cove is the Children’s Advocacy Center for the Cape & Islands. We provide a multidisciplinary response to child victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, witness to domestic violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. We provide a compassionate, efficient, child-friendly facility for child abuse intervention. Our staff facilitate a streamlined process which reduces the chances that the children are retraumatized and preserves the best evidence for investigators. Our staff help facilitate the collaboration of social and legal agencies to protect children and take the first steps toward healing. We work collaboratively with all departments of law enforcement, the Department of Children and Families, the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office, Cape Cod Healthcare, and the Department of Mental Health.

Q: How has your department contributed to the COVID-19 response over time? What has your department done for the community in response to COVID-19?

A: Children’s Cove is an essential service to the comprehensive investigation and response to crimes against children. Due to this, we quickly adapted our program to ensure health screening prior to interviews, social distancing, and secure remote access to multidisciplinary team members to participate in the forensic interview process. We have utilized technology as well as modifications to our facility to ensure safety for staff, children, and their non-offending families in all aspects of our services. With these modifications we experienced minimal delay at the onset of COVID-19 and have been able to provide our victim services to the children and families we serve throughout the pandemic. To learn more about our policies and procedural updates in the wake of COVID-19, please visit this page on our website here:

https://www.childrenscove.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Childrens-Cove_Services-during-COVID-19-August-update.pdf

Q: What challenges has your department had to face during the COVID-19 pandemic and how have you overcome those challenges?

A: The services we provide to families are some of the most sensitive and important to a child who may have been harmed. The ability to provide child-friendly, trauma informed care and create a connection to a team to support the family is integral to beginning the recovery process. The adjustment and adaptation to demonstrate these wrap-around supports was an initial adjustment not only for us, but to the dedicated first responders and multidisciplinary teams we collaborate with. The dedicated champions for children in our community have always strived to demonstrate their passion for service and the remote or virtual format can make it difficult to provide the comfort to families in the ways we are used to. As a smaller team, we also miss the in-person comradery that comes along with doing the challenging work we are faced with. However, communication and dedication to the mission, vision and values of Children’s Cove has allowed our team to remain strong and look at growth and adjustment.

Q: How can Barnstable County residents become more involved with your department and/or programs?

A: We are currently reorganizing our volunteer program to allow more opportunities to engage with the community once the pandemic is over, or restrictions allow more access to the community. Those who are interested in volunteering for Children’s Cove can learn more on our website.

Q: Has your department used volunteers in the past? How have volunteers been involved?

A: Yes. From 2017-2020 we had AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) on staff at Children’s Cove to coordinate and work with our volunteer team. We have regularly had a dedicated group of volunteers to assist our Community Engagement and Education program to bring awareness to the community. Whether this is tabling at events such as Unity Day, the Cape Cod Mom’s Parent Resource Fair, Touch-A-Truck, or the Holiday Stroll, we work to raise awareness of the issues of child sexual abuse in our community, and how Children’s Cove works towards prevention and a child-friendly response.

Q: What is one project/initiative your department completed in the past year that you are proud of?

A: With our ability to engage in the community was limited, we have worked hard over the last year to produce more digital content to raise awareness of the pandemic of child sexual abuse. With 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys impacted by sexual abuse by their 18th birthday, this is an issue every parent, caregiver and community members need to be aware of. We have launched three new campaigns to raise awareness of these issues: a parent focused video and webpage, a teen focused video and webpage, and on online safety focused webpage and campaign. By increasing easy to understand content, we hope to bring awareness and change to the issue of crimes against children.

Q: What is a resource/service your department offers that you would like people to know more about?

A: We want to hear from you! Sometimes the first step in making a difference in a child’s life is asking for help. By calling us at 508-375-0410 if you have questions, concerns or need support one of our team members can provide the information needed to take the next step. We have a chat line on our website where community members can leave a message or chat with a team member about questions, concerns or where to get resources. At times people feel we are inaccessible due to the nature of our work. But it is due to the nature of our work we ARE accessible. And please, Have the Conversation with your children, family members and friends about body safety.

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