An investment with huge results

How does your contribution help kids?!

Prevention

Because little money is offered for direct service work or prevention and community education – a significant portion of our budget is from our community. We invest your dollars in what matters most, services that support children and families to heal, build resiliency and thrive. We also maintain an active outreach program to make sure kids and adults can identify abuse and get help.

Neutral Fact Finders

We coordinated a multi-disciplinary team comprised of law enforcement, attorneys, social services, mental health and medical experts to investigate child abuse allegations. We use a child-centered and forensically sound protocol to talk to kids that allege abuse. As an independent non-profit, we use neutrality to provide a video recorded ‘First Witness’ account of the allegation.

Our Building

Our core service comes down to providing a child centered, safe and comfortable place for children to talk. This is our building. The Junior League coordinated all the efforts to build First Witness in 1993. We have to maintain its beauty and integrity just as anyone must for their own home or office. We make a safe location for children and their families a priority because otherwise they would be going to a police department, social services and attorney’s office to talk about their allegation. Instead, we provide a space that resembles a home for them to tell their story once and mitigate re-trauma.

Advocacy

Once a child tells about abuse, it is only the beginning. Support for the child and their family after an allegation comes in many forms because each child is different and every family has different needs. We strive to meet the needs of each individual as necessary to the health and well-being of that child.

Thanks for standing with kids!

First Witness Child Advocacy Center is a 501 c (3)

Everything we do is focused on the best interest of children. When we interview a child, their words and experiences are at the center. When we provide advocacy services for kids and their families, our actions are guided by what they tell us they need. We are always listening.

This year, we forensically interviewed 167 children regarding allegations of abuse. We provide a child-centered, safe place for kids to talk about their experiences of abuse. These interviews provide forensically sound evidence that becomes part of an investigation and prosecution process, seeking justice and healing for kids and their families.

Kids are our focus, every minute of every day. From our building, to our playroom, to our interview room, to our protocols and procedures, we create a safe space for children and their families to begin healing when they’re experiencing the devastation of abuse.

First Witness has changed the way our community responds to child abuse, from our child-centered forensic interviews to the way we advocate for victims and their families. We are always seeking to broaden that change by training other professionals and raising awareness in our community, keeping kids and their families at the heart of everything we do.

Staff have provided our Safe and Strong© Child prevention education to 5303 students in the Duluth schools and surrounding areas in 2016. We’ve also provided 54 prevention presentations to parents, teachers, social workers, community organizations, business leaders, and other professionals. We know the only way to prevent child abuse is to raise awareness and work together as a community.

When we keep kids from the trauma of having to tell their experiences of abuse over and over again, provide a child-centered space for them, and provide innovative, comprehensive advocacy services for them and their families, we are able to make the difference between a family being crippled by abuse, or being able to heal together. When families heal, kids get their goodnights back.

A report of abuse and forensic interview are not the end, but just the beginning of the healing process for kids and their families. First Witness provides a safe space with comprehensive services for children and their families when they are experiencing the devastating effects of abuse. When we are here to provide what they need, when they need it, we can help families become stronger, more resilient, and heal together.

Every time we train other professionals we are fulfilling our mission to strengthen our community’s response to child abuse, here and across the country. In 2016, we trained 166 professionals in ChildFirst© forensic interviewing protocol, and 1,003 professionals in First Witness Advocacy©; traveling to Indiana, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Missouri, West Virginia, and across Minnesota.

We don’t do this work alone. At our very foundation is a collaborative, multi-disciplinary team of law enforcement, legal, medical, mental health, social work, and other professionals. The First Witness team works together to make sure kids don’t fall through the cracks. That’s important because kids and families are able to find justice and healing when they have an entire team behind them.

Since 2012, the number of forensic interviews we’ve done has more than doubled, the number of students we provide prevention education has more than doubled, and the number of other professionals we’ve trained has increased by 80 percent. The only reason we’ve been able to grow and do so much more is because of your support.

We are ever-mindful at First Witness that we do not do this work alone. It takes all of us working together to build a community where children are supported and we can end child abuse. Thank you for being partners in this work.

There are many options to give this Holiday season, we hope that First Witness is on your giving list.