When children and caregivers are referred to TEDI BEAR following alleged abuse, the child typically receives child advocacy services, a forensic interview, and a medical examination. Many children and their family members also receive therapy at TEDI BEAR. These four services are described more fully below.
The child and his or her caregiver first meet with a trained Child Life Specialist who will describe the assessment process, answer any questions, and help to ensure that the child's needs are met. At first, many children and caregivers are nervous about going through the assessment process. The Child Life Specialist can usually help them to feel more relaxed, confident, and supported.
In most cases, the child is interviewed to learn more about the alleged abuse. This interview is conducted by a TEDI BEAR staff member with special training in how children of different ages think, feel, and communicate. It is recorded on video so that the child will not have to repeat this painful information more than necessary during the investigation process. With the child's and caregiver's consent, the interview may also be observed over closed-circuit television by law enforcement and other appropriate professionals. The child's caregiver is interviewed separately.
A medical examination identifies any signs of physical trauma, ensures that any lab work or other tests are performed, and evaluates the child's overall health. This exam is conducted by a pediatrician, a physician assistant, or a family nurse practitioner with special training in child abuse.
Many children and their non-offending caregivers benefit from therapy to heal from childhood trauma. TEDI BEAR has therapists whose special training in child abuse allows them to help victims and family members to resolve the trauma and move forward in their recovery.