Strengthen our communities’ response to child abuse
We coordinate a Multi-Disciplinary Team consisting of law enforcement, social workers, county attorneys, advocates, victim services, medical and mental health professionals, and the public defender’s office. This team works together to coordinate an appropriate and well-rounded response to child abuse within the community. Members of the MDT serve as Forensic Interviewers, staff monitoring teams, work with clients in a mental health capacity, and serve in other diverse roles. The MDT meets monthly to discuss any agency changes and updates as well as problem solve issues that may have arisen. First Witness provides medical exams for sexual and physical abuse victims through local specialists. Doctors and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (PAVSA SANE program) help children receive appropriate care following an alleged sexual assault while also ensuring the child’s health.
The First Witness professional training program provides trainings locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to professionals working in child protection, law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys. We teach professionals how to conduct child-friendly, non-traumatic, forensic interviews of children who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect and child endangerment or have been witness to a traumatic event.
The Safe and Strong Child© Program, originally designed for the classroom, consists of cognitively appropriate classroom lessons that are taught interactively through stories, group work, role play and song. Children are taught to identify the difference between safe and unsafe touch. Children learn how to set and honor personal body boundaries. Through the Safe and Strong curriculum children learn that it is never a child’s fault if they get a touch that is unsafe. Portions of the curriculum also provide support and education to teachers and parents who can help to keep kids safe.
The Family Services Program at First Witness provides advocacy, counseling and education to families and community members. Advocates and Counselors work with children and caregivers who have experienced a child abuse investigation to identify needs and access resources in the community. We work with parents and children to rebuild boundaries and teach resiliency skills as well as helping families to develop safety plans to minimize future abuse. We teach parents, professionals and other caregivers how to talk to children about safe and unsafe touch. We facilitate the REACH counseling and support group for children who have been abused and their caregivers. We also partner with the Duluth Family Visitation Center to help children build skills to help identify and minimize the risk of abuse.