The Help-In-Crisis shelter provides a safe and secure environment for women and their children to heal from the abuse they experience. In addition to meeting the basic needs of food, clothing and hygiene products. The shelter offers a myriad of services to meet the individual needs of residents. These services include: Support Groups, House Meetings, Advocacy, Development of Life Skills, and a Children’s Program.
Support Group: Meeting as a group provides women with the opportunity to gain support from other women in similar situations. Information is also provided concerning the cycle of violence and other issues of violence against women and its effect on the family as a whole. These meetings are open to any women suffering from the effects of domestic violence. Contact the office in Tahlequah for meeting times and locations.
House Meetings: These meetings act as an avenue for orientation to community living and offer the opportunity to educate women on the issues of domestic violence.
Advocacy: Women face barriers within the various systems they interact with as they attempt to establish a safe and secure life for themselves and their children. Staff work to bridge the gap between the women and these systems by providing information and support and by advocating for respectful and appropriate responses from these systems/agencies.
Life Skills Development: Women who enter the shelter program are taught many basic skills including: problem solving, resume development, meal planning and preparation, hygiene and social skills development.
Children’s Program: The children’s program at the shelter has the following components: individual and group counseling, parenting education, advocacy, and recreation. Child advocates act as a liaison to the public schools, courts, and various community agencies. All interactions seek to improve family relations and provide women with the tools necessary to raise their children in a non-violent home.
CAC (CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER)
A Children’s Advocacy Center is a comprehensive, child-focused program based in a facility that allows law enforcement, child protection professionals, prosecutors, victim advocates, and the mental health and medical communities to work together when intervening in child abuse cases. The goal of all CACs is to make sure that children are not further victimized by systems designed to protect them.
Children usually do not want to get the person who is hurting them in trouble; they just simply want them to stop. The CAC is a neutral place to bring children where they only have to tell their story one time. In years prior to CACs, children were interviewed at police departments and the local DHS.
The CAC also provides a meeting space for the Sequoyah County Child Abuse Task Force members who are responsible for investigating and prosecuting child abuse cases. These professionals include medical experts, interview specialists, detectives, child welfare investigators, mental health personnel, and prosecutors. All members of the Task Force are highly trained professionals, working together in order to determine if abuse has occurred. These members meet bi-monthly to staff and track cases throughout Sequoyah County.
As of October 6, 2006, the Children’s Advocacy Center has been accredited with the National Children’s Alliance. Visit www.nationalcac.org to learn more about the NCA.
The Multidisciplinary Task Force is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of child abuse allegations. Team members coordinate their efforts in order to provide each victim optimum service with a minimum of services being duplicated. These professionals include medical experts, interview specialists, detectives, child welfare investigators, mental health personnel, and prosecutors.
SANE (SEXUAL ASSAULT NURSE EXAMINERS)
The SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) program trains nurses to properly collect, preserve, and document evidence collected during a sexual assault examination. Advocacy is provided for rape survivors for legal/law enforcement services, medical services, school services, and social service agencies. Counseling is provided to survivors of sexual assault, rape or incest. Rape prevention and education are also provided in area schools and service organizations.
For further information or to obtain an application for the training, contact the Help-In-Crisis office at 918-456-5409 and ask for Sandra Dearborn.
Supervised visitation offers a safe, supervised visit for a specified duration between a non-custodial parent and his/her child(ren). The purpose of this program is to assist the courts with the child custody/visitation process. The program allows the non-custodial parent and child to have monitored visits while the court is determining what is in the best interest of the child. During supervised visits, a trained staff member is present at all times.
The supervised visitation program is only available at the Help-In-Crisis office and must be scheduled a minimum of five working days prior to a supervised visit. Upon scheduling the first supervised visitation session, the visiting parent will receive orientation from an authorized employee of Help-In-Crisis. The custodial parent will additionally attend an orientation separately from the non-custodial parent.
Responsibility for payment will be determined by the court. The rate for scheduled supervised visitation is $30 per hour. Payment must be made via money order or cashier’s check five days in advance of the scheduled visit. Supervised visitation is for the non-custodial parent only. The spouse, girl friend/boy friend, or extended family of the non-custodial parent will not be allowed to attend the visit unless stipulated by the court. If additional adults are allowed to visit by court order, an additional fee of $10 per extra adult will apply.
Supervised visitation sessions are documented through the use of a sign-in sheet. The sign-in sheet contains an emergency contact number for the custodial parent, waiver of liability and signature line for the visiting parent. Any relevant notes recorded by the supervising staff following the visit will be maintained in the visitation file.
TIPS FOR THE VISITING PARENT
- Read the court order
- Arrive and depart at the arranged time
- Do not discuss the court case or terms of the visit with your child
- Do not quiz your child about the other parent’s activities and relationships
- Do not give a message to your child for the other party
- Say goodbyes in a brief and positive manner when the visit is over
TIPS FOR THE CUSTODIAL PARENT
- Read the court order
- Explain to your child where and when the visits take place
- Have your child ready and arrive at the arranged time
- Reassure your child that you support him/her in having a nice visit
- Do not quiz your child about the visit
- Do not give any message to your child for the other party
Help-In-Crisis currently provides full-time Court Advocacy services in Cherokee, Wagoner, and Sequoyah counties. The Sequoyah County Advocate also provides services to victims in Adair County once a week.
The Court Advocate provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault seeking protective orders, advocate and support victims during hearings and trials, referrals for clients needing formal legal assistance, transportation when needed, and assist clients with the development of a Safety Plan for themselves and their children. The Advocates also accompany women with a law enforcement officer when they go to retrieve their belongings from the residence (civil stand-by).
All Court Advocates work hard at developing strong working relationships with court personnel, law enforcement, social services, and the judicial system in each of the counties. They provide education and training as needed or requested as well. Each of the Court Advocates has a strong working knowledge of the court system and is up-to-date on laws related to domestic violence and sexual assault. The trained advocates are not lawyers and do not represent themselves to be so. They assist each client in navigating the complicated and often biased legal system, advocating for the rights of the victim, while providing support and referrals.
Court Advocates offer assurance and strength to victims who are often too afraid to proceed with legal avenues because of intimidation from their abusers. The Court Advocates use their expertise and knowledge of the legal system paired with concern and care for the victim to develop a trust that enables the client to do what she must (legally) to enable justice to be served. It is the hope of all advocates to play a role in building partnerships between community and local government so that change can be effected and attitudes changed concerning domestic violence and sexual assault.