Carolyn's Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center receives grant from Governor's Crime Commission

November 12, 2020

The Governor’s Crime Commission has provided a $140,000 grant to support Carolyn’s Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center, one of the newest initiatives for Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina.

The GCC serves as the chief advisory body to the Governor and to the Secretary of Public Safety on crime and justice issues. They also serve as the State Administering Agency designated to apply for federal criminal justice funding from the US Department of Justice on behalf of the state.

This is the second GCC grant the program has received to help provide these services to the communities of Columbus and Bladen counties.

“The first grant was awarded to develop the beginning functionalities of the Child Advocacy Center model and overall development of the program,” said CAC Director Jasmine Patrick. “Our center provides a coordinated, evidence-based response to child abuse that reduces trauma and provides treatment for the children and families of our community in a safe child-focused environment. The GCC’s second grant award will aid in sustaining our services and support to the community.”

The Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) model joins the CAC with multiple agencies from law enforcement, DSS, the District Attorney’s office, and other important community agencies throughout Bladen and Columbus counties together in the investigation of child abuse and neglect. The team has developed a coordinated response for the victims, their families and the community to enhance safety, hold perpetrators accountable and to seek justice for victims.

“It’s been a godsend,” said Columbus County Assistant District Attorney Allan Adams. “It’s something that really makes a difference in the community. For example, recently at the courthouse we had a situation that arose, learned some information about a child and because we have a facility here within 24 hours we were able to have that child seen. We make sure that we’re able to gather information from the children as soon as possible, and have fewer people re-traumatizing children by giving multiple statements on multiple occasions.”

There are approximately 750 Child Advocacy Centers nationally with a little more than 45 in North Carolina. This program provides support, education and family-centered services for child victims and their non-offending caregiver in Columbus and Bladen County. Although the Whiteville location is still undergoing renovations, services began as soon as official approval was given.

“We were able to start providing Advocacy Services and Child Forensic Interviews in October 2019 once we were granted provisional accreditation from Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Carolina,” said Patrick. “We have since expanded our program by adding our Clinical Mental Health services to the CAC, which provides an array of mental health support to the children and families.”

Clinical Mental Health Director Courtney James leads this aspect of the program.

“In regards to our Mental Health services, we provide various modalities, but our first and foremost is Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy,” said Patrick. “Courtney is a North Carolina Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is Nationally Certified and State Rostered to provide Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TFCBT). TFCBT is an evidenced based practice that aims to address the needs of children and adolescents who are experiencing difficulties related to traumatic life events.”

James is grateful for the opportunity to provide these services to the area.

“Having the opportunity to work at the CAC thus far has been amazing, as it is a much needed program in the rural counties we serve,” James said. “I have had the pleasure of working with children, adolescents, and families from the Columbus and Bladen County areas for the past 8 years. During this time, I have witnessed lots of barriers that families go through when seeking services and support. I am very excited to have this opportunity to work with the community and to help ease the process our children and families face when going through traumatic life events. I look forward to getting our entire scope of Mental Health Services up and running.”

The need for services is clear as there have been more than 100 referrals since October 2019, with more coming in regularly.

“There is a huge need for the support services that the CAC offers in Bladen & Columbus Counties,” said CAC Child and Family Advocate Lytonia Alford. “Supporting victims and families as they navigate through such a difficult and life altering time in their lives is an important key role in my work at the CAC. Abuse takes a toll on not only the victim, but the entire family. Being able to provide that linkage into the community to alleviate some of the traumatic stressors families face, with a non-judgmental approach, is what my goal is. I begin working with the families from the beginning to the end, building a trust relationship to ensure the needs they have are met. Building those relationships with the families that we serve at the CAC is a piece of the healing process, and I look forward to continuing my role in being a voice for the voiceless.”

Patrick agrees, “Being able to provide a voice for children who do not have one is the rewarding part of my work. From the moment every child enters our building, we are able to build a strong lasting foundation of resilience, trust and hope as the child and their families begin the road to healing, that ensures the successful development of the child moving forward after their abuse. We want to help restore that child’s childhood, that is the ultimate goal.”

Like many programs and services, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way things are done for the CAC.

“Virtual integration has slowed our processes throughout the pandemic,” said Patrick. “We are returning in phases to face-to-face meetings with the MDTs, limiting the numbers and contact. Additionally, with changes in the court system we have been adjusting along the way to make sure that we are providing the best support possible for the child victims and families at all stages of the process.”

It has also impacted the way therapy is provided.

“Our program currently includes individual psychotherapy using face to face sessions as well as virtual sessions during these unprecedented times caused by the pandemic,” said James. “We look forward to expanding our therapy program once the pandemic concerns have lessened to provide support groups that are focused on empowering our youth as well as their non-offending caregivers.”

The strength of the CAC comes from the network of support and partnership.

“The CAC helps bring together the strong and dedicated team of individuals of different disciplines that share the same fight in protecting children and the community,” Patrick said. “Each agency within the MDT has a different key role in providing safety and justice for children and the community. Our MDT works together to meet that goal in the best way possible.”

In addition to benefiting the children in the services, the program also has a significant benefit to the community.

“We’re just trying to do good things to make our community safer as we advocate and fight for the voiceless. By tackling child abuse in our community, the cycle of abuse shortens as our MDT works diligently to hold perpetrators accountable so justice is served for our victims with successful prosecutions. Our community is very resilient and as we move forward we will enhance our efforts to provide the community education in recognizing the signs of child abuse and help us in our efforts to keep children safe. These children are the future of tomorrow and it shouldn't hurt to be a kid.”

About Carolyn’s Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center

Carolyn’s Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center is provisionally accredited to treat underserved child victims in rural southeastern NC. A program of Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, the CAC currently has a four-person team. The team includes a CAC Director/Forensic Interviewer, Child and Family Advocate, Clinical Therapist and Child Medical Professional. They conduct full child sexual abuse assessment/evaluation along with victim advocacy and implementing evidence-based treatment modalities to included Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. They meet with the child victims and non-offending caregivers to help heal children from the traumas of sexual abuse and to increase prosecution of sexual offenders. The CAC Director coordinates all functions of the MDT. Working with county agencies to assess victims, provide post assessment services and assist law enforcement enables victims to find safety and cope with the negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors to reduce substance abuse, incarceration and behaviors leading to dependence on state agencies.

Carolyn’s Kaleidoscope Child Advocacy Center is supported by grant project number PROJ014265, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

About Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina

Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, Inc., has been helping children since 1954. Since then, more than 7,500 children have benefitted from the services of the not-for-profit, 501(c)3 agency. Its mission is to provide a comprehensive array of services for children and youth who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other family dysfunction. B&GH offers adoption, family and therapeutic foster care, free children’s therapy, as well as residential care on the campus at Lake Waccamaw. The campus features a SACS-accredited school with a middle and high school curriculum, vocational education, recreation facilities, farm, chapel and cottage life. As many as 320 children are cared for through the residential, community-based services, and school program provided by B&GH at any given time. B&GH operates its program, services and activities in compliance with federal nondiscrimination laws. B&GH is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation.