No one likes to think about children being mistreated in any way; however, child abuse and neglect are rampant in our society. It is estimated that nationally one in ten children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 90% of those children will know their abuser.
The Children’s Advocacy Center—Hope House is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to ending the cycle of child abuse in Covington, LA. Hope House provides a path to recovery and a bridge to justice for child victims of abuse.
This year, the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) awarded a grant to the Children’s Advocacy Center – Hope House in support of its work with children. (Grant applications can be found on this website under “What We Do”).
Accredited by the National Children’s Alliance, the Children’s Advocacy Center—Hope House is one of sixteen Children’s Advocacy Centers in the state of Louisiana and one of only 9 which is accredited. Hope House provides services to children ages 3-17 when allegations of abuse or neglect arise.
Their programs include forensic interviewing, counseling, and prevention outreach. A professionally trained forensic interviewer (trained in asking questions in a neutral, non-leading manner, in the developmental stages of children, and in the complexities of child abuse) works with the child so he/she can talk about their experience in a safe and protective environment. This conversation is recorded on DVD, and a live feed of the interview is watched by either Law Enforcement officers and/or investigators from the Department of Children and Family Services so that they can follow their own protocol in taking steps to protect children. A Family Advocate works with the family to alleviate their anxiety, to answer questions, and to provide follow-up information. This work provides the beginning steps of healing and the initial steps to justice for children. Furthermore, every child who steps through the doors of Hope House is encouraged to participate in counseling. Hope House has a Licensed Professional Counselor trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (an evidence-based counseling modality for survivors of trauma) and Play Therapy (a counseling modality that uses play to facilitate healing with children). It is through the counseling component that children continue to heal and the cycle of abuse is most likely to be broken. Finally, Hope House is focused on being proactive as well as being reactive. They provide Stewards of Children training to any community member. The Stewards of Children training, an evidenced based training program to help adults recognize the signs of childhood sexual abuse and to response appropriately, was created by the Darkness 2 Light Program in South Carolina. No one is ever charged a fee for services provided by Hope House.
Hope House currently has 4 full-time employees and 2 part-time employees. On their volunteer list, they have approximately 60 individuals; however, these volunteers cannot serve on a daily basis at Hope House because of the confidentiality issues surrounding their work. The volunteers help Hope House by providing support at fundraising functions.
In 2014, 257 children received interviews at Hope House, almost 700 counseling sessions were provided for children and their non-offending caregivers, and almost 250 individuals were trained in Stewards of Children. Hope House provides services for the children and families of St. Tammany and Washington Parishes (Counties).
As an independent non-profit organization, Hope House is dependent upon the generosity of others to continue their work. In their words, “We are very grateful to the Theosophical Order of Service for the grant that allowed us to purchase items to distribute to adults regarding the prevention of child abuse during April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month. Without the assistance of the TOS, we could not have taken this proactive step to end the cycle of child abuse.” http://www.cachopehouse.org
- Barbara Hebert