Children's Assessment Center

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

The Children's Assessment Center exists to assess, support, and assist child victims of suspected sexual abuse through services and education. Child sexual abuse impacts every aspect of a child's life — from physical and emotional health to family and friend relationships and academics. When left untreated, adults who were child victims suffer from increased drug and alcohol abuse, relationship challenges, eating disorders, promiscuity, and even attempted and completed suicide. In addition, 70% of teenage prostitutes report that they were child victims of sexual abuse.

The Center provides the only multidisciplinary-team approach to child sexual abuse investigations in Kent County. In one child-friendly location, the Center provides every professional discipline needed by a child and their family during the investigation. This includes: specially-trained child counselors who conduct a forensic interview observed by detectives and children's protective services investigators; specially-trained pediatrician who provides a full medical examination to gather evidence, test for sexually transmitted infections, and reassure the child that his or her body is healthy and will heal; licensed therapists who provide counseling support as long as the child needs it; and a victim advocate who walks with the child and his or her non-offending family members every step of the journey.

For education, the Children's Assessment Center has created the KIDZ Have Rights — Your Body Belongs to You program (Grades 2-4) along with a youngKIDZ Have Rights geared to grades K-1st to educate Kent County's children about their body-safety rights, equipping them with the tools they need to protect themselves from victims of sexual abuse. Since its inception in 2004, KIDZ Have Rights has been presented to over 59,000 students in Kent County. This program is expected to expand due to continued budget cuts in schools affecting the loss of many school counselors. In addition, with the signing of Erin's Law, the State of Michigan has mandated that sexual abuse prevention education be available to all students. Success of the programs are measured by three goals: increase teacher comfort in discussing body-safety with students, begin parent and child communication regarding body safety, and educate lower elementary students about nurturing, confusing, and selfish touches so that they have an increased understanding of their body-safety rights and the need to report sexual abuse.

If selected as the Wine & Wig charity partner, funds from the event will be used to cover all of the costs of classroom presentations throughout the Kent Intermediate School District.

From this issue

Tina Freese Decker wasn't always a West Michigan woman.
Appetizers that leave guests asking for more.
Humans around the world accomplish the most incredible feats every day. Who knows? You may be one of them.
Spoiler Alert: If you live in Michigan, it's going to get cold. Or colder.