The Sunshine House Regional Children’s Advocacy Center provides:
- Parent/Child Enrichment Activities
- Tutoring/Educational Support
These services are free and available to children and families at risk or affected by child sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, drug endangerment, and to children who have witnessed violence.
Prevention Education – “Shine”, the golden retriever mascot of Sunshine House CAC visits
children in pre-k through 3rd grades each year. His helper talks about child safety practices
that help keep children safe. Shine is available by reservation in the Fall for Red Ribbon Week
and in Spring for Child Abuse Prevention Month in April. To Reserve Shine, call 478-237-7801.
Stewards of Children is an education and response program for adults on child sexual abuse
from the Darkness to Light Organization. It is facilitated locally as resources become available.
Hear from survivors who describe the impact of child sexual abuse and you will have a greater
awareness and understanding of victimization. The 2.5 hour multi-media program is offered to
groups of any size. Contact Carol at 478-237-7801 for more details.
Parent Education and Support is provided to individuals referred by DFACS, the courts,
and when requested from the community. Trained parent educators facilitate the program that
is supported by Promoting Safe and Stable Families program through DHS.
If interested, contact Rashida at 478-237-7801 or Gail at 912-685-4260.
Therapeutic Counseling Services objective is to reduce the trauma of abuse and improve coping skills when abuse has occurred and/or a family experiences a crisis due to substance abuse or domestic violence. The Sunshine House CAC employs therapist who have their Master’s degree and who are licensed or licensed- eligible in the fields of Professional Counseling, Marriage and Family Therapy, or Clinical Social Work. Therapy is provided to victims of child sexual abuse, severe physical abuse, and children who have witnessed domestic violence. Clinical and support services are also provided to siblings and non-offending caregivers.
The primary treatment model utilized by The Sunshine House CAC is Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). TF-CBT is widely regarded as the most effective treatment with sexually abused and traumatized children. It has the strongest research support of any treatment model with traumatized children and is identified as “Best Practice” for therapy with sexually abused children. TF-CBT is a treatment focused on helping children recognize how some of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors have been shaped by their trauma. TF-CBT helps children to cope with and change those thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This therapy emphasizes the importance of parent involvement. During the course of treatment, therapists have individual sessions with the child, individual sessions with the parent and also joint sessions with the parent and child.
In addition to TF-CBT, The Sunshine House CAC also has therapists who have been specially trained in Play Therapy, a model of treatment techniques that emphasizes the child’s natural world of Play to facilitate healing. These techniques are often essential to treatment of young children who have been abused but may have limited cognitive or verbal skills due to their developmental levels. Therapists use sand tray, art, puppets, therapeutic games, etc. as well as words to enable a child to communicate about, and heal from, their experiences.
Forensic Interviews will be provided to children who have made an outcry of physical or sexual abuse or witness of domestic violence and referred by DFCS/ Law Enforcement to determine if abuse occurred, to determine if the child is at risk within their home and to make appropriate referrals for further services if applicable.
Forensic Evaluations are multi-session interviews conducted by specially trained professionals in a child friendly environment. Forensic Evaluations are requested by Law Enforcement, the Department of Family and Children’s Services and the Office of the District Attorney. They are conducted with children who are currently involved in a criminal or child protection investigation and who may experience difficulty relaying their information during a single interview session. Forensic Evaluations are designed to gather pertinent information in a neutral, non-leading, forensically sound manner while taking into account the child or adolescent’s emotional needs and developmental level.
Family Assessment services objectives are for each family referred to The Sunshine House for services to have an assessment to identify symptoms, risk factors within the family unit and needs of the family. Family Assessment is an ongoing service as the family engages in service and begins the healing process. The family is a vital part of this process. A variety of testing instruments will be used that are researched based.
Parent/Child Enrichment are activities for individual families to encourage positive behavior and interactions and provide opportunity for staff to observe interaction, assess the progress and concerns to be addressed through our services, and encourage nurturing relationships.
Tutoring/Educational Support Services are provided for children in the school setting who are referred by DFCS due to crisis within their home. During this stressful time for families, children often fall behind academically and need additional support and encouragement to be successful in school. Parents are often intimidated by the school and need encouragement to participate in school activities and a support person to help coordinate and attend meeting so that the parent can have more input into what is going on with the child. Objectives will be improvement in academic scores and school success and parental involvement with child’s education.
Forensic Medical Exams-The forensic medical component at The Sunshine House was developed based on the National CAC model. Forensic medical exams are offered for children and adolescents suspected of child abuse and referred by law enforcement or Department of Family and Children Services. They include pre and post-conferences with the parent or caregiver; a complete head-to-toe, non-invasive physical exam by a forensic family nurse practitioner; a child advocate for support before, during and after the exam; a non-invasive colposcope used for magnification and documentation of findings; collection of physical and photographic evidence for law enforcement; state-of the art Telemedicine for consulting opinions; laboratory testing for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy; prevention of unnecessary repeat exams; referrals for counseling; and expert witness testimony in court.
Peer Reviews-The Sunshine House CAC uses state-of-the-art telemedicine and teleconferencing equipment as part of a partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s (CHOA) Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children. This partnership allows our nurse practitioner to participate in the statewide medical network of qualified professionals who are providing timely evaluations to sexually and physically abused children within their own communities. Through the Georgia Partnership for Telemedicine Network, Peer Reviews are held monthly with the CAC medical providers across the state.
Telemedicine Continuing Education Series-As part of the medical partnership, CHOA and The Sunshine House CAC work together to provide convenient and free continuing education opportunities to community professionals involved in the recognition, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and neglect. The Long-Distance Learning program offers a monthly, one-hour session where attendees can participate in a ‘real-time’ video-conference presentation conducted by a speaker located in Atlanta. Because it is a part of the Georgia Telemedicine Network, The Sunshine House provides the meeting space and necessary equipment to offer the program and monthly sessions. Each month offers a different topic and attendees register for individual sessions of the series one at a time. Participants can choose to attend as many or as few as they would like. Each monthly session is approved for continuing education credit through POST, NASW, CME, GNA, EMS, and LPCA.