The teenage girl looked at the shelf, her eyes sparkling. Then she spotted it and started jumping up and down, "A kitty! A kitty! I love kittens!" She hugged the stuffed animal and I smiled, pleased that she found happiness and healing at The Tree House. -A Tree House Therapist
The Tree House works with victims of child abuse every day, children like the teenager who loves kittens. We also work with their non-offending family members to help all of them heal from the trauma of abuse. If you are new to our organization you may not know that we are Montgomery County's only Child Advocacy Center (CAC). Last year we saw 700 children, many of whom you passed during your typical day around town.
But what is a CAC and why is it needed? Before The Tree House was established in 2002, abuse victims in our county started their journeys at police stations or emergency rooms and then navigated through complicated medical, law enforcement, prosecution, and counseling systems on their own. The children would have to tell and re-tell their stories to many different people, adding to their trauma and stress. Families often had no transportation to get from place to place. There was a lack of communication among protective service systems and little connection to treatment and services. This resulted in many of them dropping out of the process and never receiving the help they so desperately needed.
The Tree House CAC was created as the solution to these problems. Here the child only needs to tell her story once, to our Forensic Interviewer. The child can receive a comprehensive medical exam, on-site, by our Child Abuse Certified Pediatrician. The Tree House can provide the mental health therapy necessary for the child to heal and thrive. The Tree House victim advocate can help the child and her family find helpful services and hold their hands throughout the legal process. Here, with our partners in Montgomery County's State's Attorney's office, County Attorney's office, Family Crimes Division, and Child Protective Services, we can review all aspects of the child's case and best serve the needs of the child.
In the coming months we will be using this newsletter to explain the roles played by each of our staff members at The Tree House. You will hear, from them, about the work they do and why they love what many consider to be such a difficult job. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the services we provide, ask them here.
Plans are well underway for a fantastic Tree House Tour de Cookie! Ridership is up over 70% compared to last year at this time. For that we'd like to thank all of our team captains who have been actively recruiting co-workers, friends, and relatives. Cookie stands are nearly all claimed. We have 2 more spots available so if you like to bake consider contacting us...soon!