The CACSC offers advocacy services to child victims of abuse and their non-offending caregivers. An important goal is to reduce the trauma that victims and their caregivers experience as a result of the abuse. Child Family Advocates are available at the initial visit and onset of the investigation to help make the process less overwhelming – to provide support, answer questions and assist in referrals for other services. Child Family Advocates provide crisis services, information on rights of the child and non-offending parents, assistance with the Crime Victims' Compensation application process, supportive counseling, access to resources, therapy referrals, and assistance in navigating the medical and legal systems. In instances where additional advocacy services are needed, the Child Family Advocates will refer to other partner agencies. At the family's request, the Child Family Advocates can continue to be available even after other CACSC services conclude.
The Exploited and Missing Child Unit (EMCU) conducts the investigations of child abuse cases. Investigators from the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, along with social workers from the Department for Children and Families work as a team to investigate over 2,000 cases a year of sexual abuse, serious physical child abuse, missing and abducted children, internet exploitation and other crimes against children. All investigators receive specialized training in forensic interviewing to minimize the trauma to the child while obtaining information needed to determine the best course of action for the case. Other aspects of investigations can include interviewing potential witnesses and the suspect, identifying possible supporting evidence, presenting evidence for prosecution of the case and providing additional services and resources as needed to protect the child.
The CACSC provides on-site therapy for child abuse victims and their non-offending caregivers. Licensed therapists are available to schedule an initial session in a timely manner after the first contact with the CACSC, usually within ten days. This encourages an earlier start to the healing process. Each child and family receives individualized treatment services to address their specific therapeutic needs. Mental health services can also be provided by other community agencies such as the Mental Health Association, EmberHope’s FCS counseling program, the Wichita Child Guidance Center of Kansas Children’s Service League, and COMCARE of Sedgwick County. Referrals are also made to private therapy providers when appropriate for the family.
Ensuring the safety and well-being of all children involved in child abuse and neglect investigations is a priority of the CACSC and our partner agencies. If there is a concern for physical abuse, children often receive initial medical examinations at a local hospital or clinic. Sexual abuse evaluations include forensic examinations that are provided by specially trained nurses at either the Wesley Medical Center’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team program, or at Via Christi’s Forensic Nursing program. The CACSC team also includes two pediatricians who are board certified in Child Abuse Pediatrics and provide their expertise through case consultation, direct patient care and case review. The forensic nurses and the child abuse pediatricians help investigators determine when and where examinations should be scheduled to best address each child’s needs.
The Juvenile and Criminal Divisions of the 18th Judicial District provide oversight of legal components in the cases seen at the CACSC. Although many cases of suspected abuse or neglect will not involve a criminal prosecution, a prosecutor from the Criminal Division of the District Attorney’s office will review cases to determine if charges can be filed and will work with the child victim throughout the process of filing charges and moving the case through the court system. The Juvenile Division prosecutes cases in which the offender is under the age of 18 and charged as a juvenile. More commonly, this division handles Child in Need of Care cases to work on behalf of child abuse victims who are determined to be unsafe in their current environment or may need to be placed in the custody of the state.