As the state-designated Children’s Advocacy Center, Kristi House is responsible for coordinating all child sexual abuse cases in Miami-Dade County working with six partner agencies: State Attorney’s Office, University of Miami Child Protection Team, Department of Children and Families, Jackson Hospital Rape Treatment Center, law enforcement and Guardian ad Litem. In addition to its coordinating role, Kristi House also provides direct, trauma-informed treatment and services to child victims of abuse and their families.
The Family Advocacy Team at Kristi House determines the needs of children and families, makes referrals for needed services, assists families in accessing those services, and assists in the coordination of services with agencies/people listed below. The Therapy Department at Kristi House helps the child and family deal with the complex emotions and behaviors that result from the abuse. Licensed and master’s level clinicians provide individual, group, and family therapy using evidence-based treatments. Project GOLD provides advocacy and therapy and an array of educational and enrichment services at its Drop In Center for child sex trafficking survivors. As a Children’s Advocacy Center, Kristi House also serves as coordinator of the Multidisciplinary Team Partners named below.
What is a Children’s Advocacy Center?
To understand what a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is, one must imagine what children face without one. Without a CAC, a child might end up having to tell the worst story of his or her life over and over again….to doctors, cops, lawyers, therapists, investigators, judges, and others. They may have to talk about that traumatic experience in a police station where they think they might be in trouble, or may be asked the wrong questions by a well-meaning teacher or other adult that could hurt the case against the abuser.
When police or child protective services believe a child is being abused, the child is brought to the Kristi House CAC—a safe, child-focused environment—by a caregiver or other “safe” adult. At the CAC, the child tells their story once to a trained interviewer who knows the right questions to ask in a way that does not not re-traumatize the child. Then, a team that includes medical professionals, law enforcement, mental health, prosecution, child protective services, victim advocacy, and other professionals make decisions together about how to help the child based on the interview. CACs offer therapy and medical exams, plus courtroom preparation, victim advocacy, case management, and other services. This is called the multidisciplinary team (MDT) response and is a core part of the work of CACs.
Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center Multidisciplinary Team
State Attorney’s Office – Sexual Battery/Child Abuse Unit:
The State Attorney’s Office represents the State in Court and presents the child’s side of the case for prosecution of the offender. This office also reviews law enforcement investigations, arrests, and initiates felony prosecutions. The Forensic Interviewer conducts the initial interview in a non-threatening environment. The interview session is monitored and recorded to eliminate the need for repeated interviews of the child victim/witness, by various people and departments. The unit also interviews children under 12 years of age who have witnessed or been a victim of a crime. Their direct line is (305) 547-0115.
Guardian ad Litem Program:
The Guardian ad Litem, appointed by the Court, represents the child in legal proceedings and makes independent recommendations to the Court in the best interest of the child. Volunteer opportunities are available. Please contact their main office number to learn more about volunteering at (305) 638-6861.
University of Miami Child Protection Team:
Physicians from University of Miami’s Child Protect Team perform medical exams for non-acute sexual abuse cases at the Center. A special, child-friendly exam room and supplies are geared to a child’s special needs. Their direct line is (305) 243-7550.
Law Enforcement Agencies:
Detectives from Miami-Dade County Police, City of Miami Police and other municipal forces conduct investigations to determine if a crime has occurred, working closely with the State Attorney’s Office. In cases of emergency, please call 9-1-1.
The Special Victims Bureau (SVB) is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide an immediate response along with swift follow-up criminal investigations to allegations of sexual and domestic crimes, child and elderly abuse, and missing persons. Their number is 305-715-3390.
Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) – Protective Investigation Team:
The Florida Department of Children and Families conducts thorough investigations to determine the safety of the child(ren) and family, makes referrals to agencies (such as Kristi House) and oversees all that happens with individual cases. The southern Florida region local number is (305) 377-5055.
Florida Abuse Hotline: 1-800-962-2873
Jackson Health System Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center
The Roxcy Bolton Rape Treatment Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital provides forensic medical examinations for children over 12 and in acute cases under 12 when medical staff is not available at the Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center. Their number is (305) 585-7273.