To provide help, hope and healing for victims of child abuse and ensure, by coordinating the multidisciplinary team process, that the cases of all victims have access to non-traumatizing, quality interviews and medical exams...leading to better investigations and more prosecutable cases.
In 2003, more than 40 child service professionals began meeting to discuss how child abuse cases were being handled in the 7th Judicial District. Over the ensuing 12 months, this group met many times to discuss the methods used by law enforcement agencies and Health & Human Service agencies to investigate reports of child abuse. What they discovered was practices being used were inflicting additional trauma on the victims, agencies were not communicating with each other, and very few cases were being prosecuted. This group began to look at the Child Advocacy Center model that came into existence with the Child Abuse Act of 1990, and determined that this model was what was needed for child abuse victims in the 7th Judicial District. This group submitted a request for start-up funding from the National Children's Alliance, the accreditation body for Child Advocacy Centers in the United States, and upon approval for funding, began to put into place the 7th Judicial District Child Advocacy Center, DBA the Dolphin House Child Advocacy Center.
The doors of the Dolphin House opened July 1, 2005, and since that time has provided services to more than 1,000 child (primary) victims and more than 1,200 non-offending family members (secondary victims).
Each year the number of victims served has increased, and beginning in 2010, the number of victims served was more than the other four and a half years combined. We saw substantial increases in both 2011 and 2012, and at this writing we are about 10 percent higher in number of victims served than this same time last year.
We view these increased numbers as very positive in that we believe and statistics show that less than 25% of victims ever report. Client surveys show us that many victims and mandatory reporters reported the abuse because they know there is a safe, non-threatening place where child victims can be brought...a place where they are treated with dignity and respect...a place where they receive help and hope...a place where caring individuals walk beside them down the long road to healing.
Through the multidisciplinary team process, we are seeing more complete investigations of cases, which have led to an increase in cases being accepted by the District Attorney for prosecution.
The services that the Dolphin House provides are vital to not only the child victims but also to their families. The Dolphin House is the binding piece to the puzzle that supports the family through the entire investigation and prosecution process. They are there to coordinate and collaborate on providing whatever assistance the family needs--whether that be professional counseling assistance or coordination with other victim advocacy agencies. They are a vital link in the entire process. --Jim Jackett, LCSW, Child Welfare Program Manager, Montrose County Health and Human Services
The Dolphin House is vital to our victims and their families. Victims are supported by the same person from the minute they walk through the doors of the Dolphin House until their case is completed. The Dolphin House provides educational materials and classes, supportive care, mental health assessments, forensic interviews and medical exams for child abuse victims all in one facility. The Dolphin House is also a resource for community education on child abuse issues. Prior to the Dolphin House law enforcement or social workers had to transport child victims to their departments for interviews, which were scary for the victims and often poorly recorded. Then they would e off to the emergency room or clinic for their medical exam. There was often a wait and general chaos. It became hard to coordinate appointments and there was a lack of information sharing between agencies and a huge lack of continuity for the victims. Now from the minute a child and his/her family walks into the doors of the Dolphin House...greeted by the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies...they begin their journey of healing. --Dr. Mary L. Vader, pediatrician, Pediatric Associates, LLC
The Dolphin House is an important organization that offers services for six counties in the 7th Judicial District for abused children and non-offending family members. As Chief Investigator for the 7th Judicial District, I am in a unique position to observe the devastating effects of child abuse on the victims and their families. The Dolphin House is well equipped to provide a safe, comforting, non-threatening environment...minimizing additional trauma for the victims. The Dolphin House is an asset to our district, coordinating our multidisciplinary team during the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases, as well as providing advocacy and support for all victims even beyond the investigation and prosecution phases...walking beside the victims throughout the healing process. -- Tammy Stroup, Chief Investigator for the 7th Judicial District, District Attorney's Office
The Dolphin House is a very important agency for abused children and their non-offending family members. For more than 12 years I have served as a detective for the Delta County Sheriff's Office. I am a member of the Multidisciplinary Team and a trained interviewer. It is difficult to put into words the asset the Dolphin House is for an agency of my size. Since we only have two primary investigators working with cases involving child abuse, the help we receive from the Dolphin House is immense. We are able to schedule interviews, medical exams and other services with just one phone call to the Dolphin House. Their staff does the rest of the leg work to make things happen for the victims and their families, which takes the pressure off of investigators so we can focus on the interviews. The recording equipment and interview rooms are superior to anything we have in our own agency. The atmosphere is relaxed and inviting--reducing the possibility for the victims to suffer additional system-inflicted trauma. The Dolphin House also serves the needs of victims and their families in ways that exceed the capabilities of law enforcement providing. We are grateful every minute that the Dolphin House is just a phone call away to help us make the tough job of dealing with child abuse cases easier. -- Duane Morton, Lead Investigator - Delta County Sheriff's Office.