How does a Family Advocate handle crisis intervention with families during their child’s forensic interview? Here at the Center, our Family Advocates provide caregivers in high-risk situations with crisis support, determination of needs, and intervention throughout their involvement with the Child Protection Team.

Reducing Impact of Trauma through Caregiver Support

During child abuse investigations, caregivers are often overwhelmed and in crisis due to their child’s allegations of abuse. This is a difficult period in which a child needs their caregiver reassurance and support so they can promptly get them on the road to healing and recovery. Family Advocates provide the caregivers with trauma education so that they understand what possible reactions they can anticipate and how to act in the best interest of their child.

“If the primary caregivers are impacted by the same trauma, it is imperative that they get treatment that compliments the work with the child. Indeed, the best intervention for infants and young children is treating the primary caregiving adults.  As they become less anxious, fearful and impaired, the more available they are to the infant and toddler.” –Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., Founder of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics

The Brain During Crises

Our brain is composed of three parts:

  1. The cerebellum, or brainstem, which controls the fight, flight, or freeze responses during a time of crisis.
  2. The limbic system, which is the mid area of the brain and is responsible for emotional reactions.
  3. The neocortex, which is part of the cerebral cortex and is responsible for higher-order functions like language, spatial reasoning, and logic.

When we are experiencing a crisis our brains do not function in the same way as when we are in a calm state. In times of stress, the cerebral cortex (responsible for reason and logic) becomes overwhelmed by the limbic system (responsible for emotions) or the brain stem (responsible for survival). As a result, we can have a more difficult time processing information. Family Advocates provide support and regulation to help the caregiver process information relating to the allegations and the forensic interview. Caregivers can rely on our Family Advocates for support throughout the investigation process.

Individualized, Trauma-Informed Care

Often, a Family Advocate may be the first person to ask the caregiver how they are doing, allowing them time and space to begin to process what has happened. This looks different for every family. Family Advocates assess the caregiver’s current state and needs to develop an individualized plan for support. This could mean processing how the caregiver is feeling or sitting with them and offering support simply by being a quiet, calm, empathic person in the room. Family Advocates also focus on the child and how they are coping, while equipping the parent with tools they can use to support their child. Providing referrals to community resources is another way Family Advocates support the whole family. Each family’s needs are different and here at the Center, we provide trauma-informed services that meet the family where they’re at.