About 350 children 18 or younger come to CARES each year for comprehensive medical exams and objective interviews to determine if abuse has occurred. Most are referred through the Oregon Department of Human Services' Child Welfare office or law enforcement. Some are brought directly by concerned family members.
Most live in Klamath and Lake Counties in Oregon. CARES is also on call for children in neighboring Modoc and Siskiyou Counties in California, and has examined children who are traveling through these areas.
CARES strives to prevent the repeated abuse of children by offering the highest quality professional services with compassion and sensitivity. A thorough, caring, approach and child-focused environment dramatically reduces the trauma young victims may have already endured. CARES focuses on the best interest of the child or teen, helping him or her feel safe to tell the truth.
CARES' medical professionals give each young person a comprehensive physical examination. Forensic interviewers then use strict guidelines to objectively ask each suspected victim what happened. With their permission, children's responses are recorded using a state-of-the-art digital video system that is unobtrusive and spares them having to repeat their stories to different individuals in the assessment process, or later in court.
MDTs are "multi-disciplinary teams" include CARES' medical providers and interviewers, child welfare personnel, law enforcement, and other local agencies who objectively review each case. They examine documented evidence; determine whether physical, sexual or emotional abuse or criminal neglect is founded; and decide what action should be taken. CARES staff may be called as expert witnesses in court, and recorded evidence may save a child from testifying.
CARES keeps caring by helping kids begin to heal. The child and family advocate meets with each child and their non-offending parents or guardians to follow up on medical and interviewer recommendations to ensure problems don't happen again. The advocate puts them in touch with counseling, medical/dental care, food, clothing, transportation, day care, or community resources for other basic needs - and follows up with them for 90 days to ensure they received needed support.
CARES' services are free to suspected victims and their non-offending families or guardians. Some have private insurance that will cover part of the cost. Most clients are uninsured and therefore qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, which reimburses a small portion of the cost of care. CARES' services are largely made possible by grants and individual donations from people like you. Thank you for considering how you can help us protect children.
Pictured at right: One of two CARES examination rooms..