Toolkits Advocacy Project

Advocacy Activities

Though child advocacy in Minnesota differs by center, there are a set of foundational activities that all centers provide. The following offers an overview of advocacy activities, spanning the term of engagement with a family.

It begins with activities that take place before the center visit and then outlines those that take place during and after the center visit. Legal advocacy, which is often an ongoing, lengthy process, is outlined at the end. Each section includes both foundational activities as well as additional services that may be offered at specific centers, depending on their capacity.

Before the Center Visit

Foundational activities

  • Make pre-call with non-offending caregiver:
    • Greet family and introduce yourself
    • Communicate the role of the advocate
    • Share CAC address, directions and contact info
    • Confirm interview date and time
    • Answer any preliminary questions
    • Describe the forensic interview process
    • Discuss how to talk with the child/youth about why they are coming to the CAC
    • Find out if barriers or special needs exist (e.g., transportation, disabilities, language barriers)
    • Collect any relevant family history information
    • Find out who will be coming to the appointment
  • Schedule medical exam, if needed
  • Schedule language services, if needed
  • Prepare resource materials/handouts
  • Contact MDT partners

Additional services CACs may provide

  • Provide meals, if needed
  • Help with transportation, if needed

Day of Services

Foundational activities

  • Prepare playroom/interview room; make any necessary environmental adjustments if needed
  • Provide supports specific to cultural beliefs and practices, accessibility, language and additional areas identified by the youth and NOC
  • Ensure technology, equipment and building are in working order
  • Read through case report, if available
  • Participate in pre-meeting with forensic interviewer and any other MDT members who will observe/are present
    • Ensure all members have the latest case information
  • Welcome family and introduce yourself
  • Cover the general rules and norms of the CAC (e.g., a safe place, child-led)
  • Stay with caregiver during the interview
    • Go over confidentiality with the caregiver and child/youth and how it relates to the MDT
    • Explain the process of interview and investigation as necessary
    • Explain victim rights and criminal justice process to the NOC
    • Walk through related handouts (e.g., privacy practices, grievance procedure, handbook about services, victim rights, reparations)
    • Provide education and counsel to family and child/youth (e.g., boundaries, belief, etc.); take case notes as needed
    • Go through a safety checklist to identify needs
    • Ask if the caregiver(s) have any questions
  • Meet with non-offending caregiver (or youth) following the interview:
    • Provide referrals (e.g., counseling, therapy)
    • Offer support and resources (e.g., support group info, educational books)
    • Schedule follow-up call/meeting
    • Ask how the family prefers to communicate (e.g., phone, text, email)
  • Provide contact information to caregiver and child/youth for ongoing support
  • Discuss coordination of services/referrals with MDT members
  • Help coordinate medical exam, if needed

Additional services CACs may provide

  • Provide transportation to center
  • Provide a tour of the center/space
  • Offer snacks and beverages to help the family feel comfortable
  • Go over release of information and interview authorization and ask caregivers to sign
  • Complete any assessments or screening tools (e.g., trauma assessment)
  • Attend post-meeting with MDT
  • Offer day-of counseling services
  • Assist in locating alternative housing
  • Clarify/offer ongoing advocacy supports and gauge interest
  • Administer OMS survey to caregiver and children

After Center Visit

Foundational activities

  • Call NOC caregiver to check in and offer support, if desired
  • Make and document referrals (e.g., mental health supports, legal aid, etc.)
  • Participate in case reviews

Additional services CACs may provide

  • Provide “warm hand-off” to referred agency (e.g., mental health professional)
  • Accompany NOC to discuss safety plan with school, as needed
  • Follow-up on medical services as needed
  • Provide ongoing case management and support
  • Follow-up on service referrals given and documentation
  • Provide prevention education
  • Facilitate caregiver/child support groups
  • Follow up with caregiver and/or child to see if referred services are effective and meeting needs
  • Administer OMS survey to caregiver and children
  • Close cases in NCAtrak, as needed

Legal Advocacy

Foundational activities

  • Follow up on tracking of criminal case
  • Provide family updates on case/investigations
  • Coordinate and/or attend meetings with law enforcement and/or child protection
  • Help family navigate the legal system by offering support and education
  • Inform family of the case outcome
  • Discuss and clarify legal rights
  • Assist with orders of protection or harassment restraining orders

Additional services CACs may provide

  • Provide “warm hand-off” to court advocate, if applicable
  • Attend court hearings/proceedings with family, if desired
  • Coordinate/accompany caregiver to meetings with county attorney and victim witness regarding their charging decision
  • Assist in filing for reparations and restitution
  • Coordinate with prosecuting attorney’s office as needed
  • Ensure family/child understands charges
  • Enroll child/family in Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE), if requested
  • Share information about financial assistance

Technical Support to Develop Your Team

The Minnesota Children’s Alliance provides facilitation support for teams developing, reviewing, and refining their collaborative response to child abuse investigations. Contact Marcia Milliken for an initial consultation.

Email Marcia Milliken »

The Advocacy Project materials were developed in collaboration with advocates at children’s advocacy centers (CACs) across Minnesota. The Alliance is grateful for the knowledge, insight, and best practices that participants brought to this collaborative process.

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