Phone: 507-637-1397 | Fax: 507-637-1379
Redwood County Courthouse
250 S Jefferson Street
Redwood Falls, MN 56283
Mission/History: The Redwood County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), is the only Children’s Advocacy Center in the Southwest Region. The Redwood County CAC was established by a local multidisciplinary partnership to respond better to child abuse allegations back in 2011 thanks to the operating support from the Otto Bremer Foundation. The Redwood County CAC was awarded the Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs CAC expansion grant in 2015, to continue the accreditation process and hire a Coordinator to instrument National Children’s Alliance Standards to our daily function. In 2016, the CAC was awarded the Crime Victims Services grant for 5 years to continue developing and serving child abuse victims in the SW Region of Minnesota.
The Redwood County CAC prides itself on catering to the needs of victims with exceptional victim services and advocacy practices in the Southwest Minnesota Region. We aspire to be culturally inclusive and provide services to underserved rural populations.
Multidisciplinary Team Approach: The Redwood CAC is a great community resource for victims of child abuse and their families in the Southwest Region of Minnesota to receive comprehensive, child first services. This multidisciplinary team approach protects the vulnerability of the child, assures that their voice is heard and immediate mental health and medical services are provided.
Modeled off of the structure set forth by the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the MDT is designed to meet the needs of child victims and their families and to reduce the trauma associated with childhood abuse. Collaboration occurs at all stages of response, including investigations, prosecutions, needs assessments, and medical and therapeutic interventions.
What is a CAC
This video from the National Children’s Alliance gives a great overview of a CAC.
Minnesota Women’s Indigenous Society – (507) 627-4357
Safe and Strong Child Program
How important is prevention? In one instance, prior to programming, about one-third of kindergartners and first graders thought they should keep secrets about touches if an adult or older child told them to. The majority of children grades K-5 initially believed that if a child doesn’t say no or doesn’t tell about abuse, then the abuse is the child’s fault.
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 three components of the program are as follows:
- Developmentally appropriate curriculum: The classroom presentations are designed to teach children about safe, confusing, and unsafe touch in a non-threatening environment. It helps them identify safe people to talk to and removes shame and isolation surrounding abuse. The presentations are interactive and children are encouraged to participate and ask questions.
- Professional teacher and staff training: The purpose of the teacher/staff training is to provide teachers and support staff with information on the content of classroom presentations and how the personal body safety concepts can be reinforced in the classroom and with children and families.
- Parent/Caregiver Meeting: The purpose of this meeting is to introduce the Safe and Strong Child© curriculum which will be presented in the classroom to parents or caregivers. Also discussed at this meeting are grooming/manipulation tactics used by perpetrators, age appropriate sexual behavior and how to respond to disclosures of abuse. The focus of this meeting is to address parent/caregiver concerns and to have an open conversation about body safety and the curriculum.
The Redwood County Children’s Advocacy Center staff is trained to offer this program for K-5 students.
Erin's Law Pledge
Erin’s Law requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:
- Students in grades PreK – 12th grade, age appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
- School personnel about child sexual abuse
- Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families.
The Redwood County Children’s Advocacy Center has asked all Redwood County schools to take the pledge to offer this training annually starting with the 2019-2020 school year.
Commonly asked questions by caregivers
What will the forensic interview be like for my child?
The forensic interview will be in a child-focused setting with a specially trained child forensic interviewer. The interviewer asked neutral, fact-finding questions in a way that is sensitive to your child’s age and ability. The interview will be video recorded and observed by the members of the multidisciplinary team.
What should I tell my child about going to the Children’s Advocacy Center?
- Tell your child they will be visiting a safe place
- Make sure your child is well-rested
- Give your child permission to talk to the interviewer and to talk about anything
You may say something like:
“We are going to the Children’s Advocacy Center. It is a place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to a lot of kids about what might have happened to them. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
- Tell the child they are going somewhere to play
- Offer the child a bribe for telling about what happened
- Coach or advise your child on what to say or how to act
What will I be doing while my child is talking to the interviewer?
You will be meeting with your child/family advocate. The advocate will provide you with information about resources and referrals to help your child and family through the process. The advocate will also provide ongoing information and support to you and your child.
Will I be able to sit with my child during the interview?
Caregivers are not allowed to observe the interview nor sit with the child during the interview. The interviewer must talk to the child alone. It is difficult for children to talk about abuse they may have experienced and it is difficult for caregivers to hear.
May I bring a friend of family member to wait with me?
You are more than welcome to bring a support person with you to the CAC. However, you may not bring the person being accused of maltreatment. An advocate will meet with you during your child’s forensic interview to provide support.
What happens after the forensic interview?
After the interview law enforcement or child protection may meet with the caregiver to answer questions and make recommendations. They will tell you in general terms what they have learned from the interview.
Remember, your child’s interview is just the first step in the investigative process. There may be other witnesses that need to be interviewed. The alleged offender will be interviewed. So, at this point in the process it’s often difficult to predict what will happen.
All of the information will be turned over to the county attorney who will decide whether or not to prosecute. Your advocate will keep in regular contact to let you know what is happening on the case. If you have questions at any point during the investigation or prosecution of your child’s case, please feel free to contact your advocate.
What is the advantage of having my child interviewed at the CAC?
The CAC provides a place that is friendly, private and safe for children to talk. The forensic interview process and multidisciplinary approach reduce the trauma your child may experience by limiting the number of times his/her story needs to be told. Services for your family will be better coordinated.
How do I talk to my child about what happened?
Disclosure can be overwhelming and scary for children, so it is best not to ask a lot of questions. Let your child know that if they need to talk that you will listed and answer any of their questions.
Some things that you can say that will help your child:
- I believe in you.
- It’s not your fault.
- I’m glad you told me.
- I’m sorry this happened to you.
- I will take care of you.
- Nothing about YOU made this happen.
- I am upset, but not with you.
- You can still love someone but hate what they did to you.
- I am proud of you.
Do I need and Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order?
An OFP or HRO may be needed if the alleged perpetrator could have access to your child or is continuing to contact you after being asked not to. It is also possible that the investigation team may ask you to get an OFP or HRO, based on the circumstances. An advocate can help you make the decision regarding obtaining either order and can assist in the process of completing the request.
Why did this happen to my child?
The truth is… this can happen to any child because children are very vulnerable and rely on adults for most things. Perpetrators systematically groom and build trust with you and your children before the abuse occurs. Perpetrators come from all races, ethnicities, religions and incomes. Many appear to be trusted members of our communities. It is not your fault and it is not your child’s fault.
Why didn’t my child tell me? Why did it take so long for my child to tell me?
There are many reasons children do not tell! Children sometimes want to protect their parents from feeling sad or angry. They are often very afraid to speak out regarding the abuse. Abusers tell children no one will believe them. Abusers also may threaten them or loved ones if the child tells. Many children do not want to get the abuser in trouble. Some children may not have the words to describe what has happened to them. It is common for children to never tell when something has happened.
Redwood County Children’s Advocacy Center Referral Form