Children who’ve been abused not only have to shoulder the burden of the abuse, but also struggle having to recount the experience multiple times to multiple agencies. In addition, it can be challenging for a child to receive the counseling services they need due to various barriers preventing them from attending appointments.
Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Dakota (CACND) is passionate about removing these barriers so that abused children can receive the support they need. Its award-winning campaign initiative, the Telehealth Outreach Program, was developed to allow children to receive counseling without having to spend time and money traveling to appointments.
Established in 2019, the primary goal of the Telehealth Outreach Program is to eliminate barriers and expand access to trauma- and evidence-based mental health services for underserved children in North Dakota who have been abused or neglected. It was important for CACND to provide access to the same resources, services and opportunities for families in many different counties.
Children who have been abused benefit greatly from counseling services, however, various obstacles often stand in the way of their seeking these services—traveling distances, work schedules, chaotic living environments, to name a few. To eliminate these barriers, the Telehealth Outreach Program allows children to receive counseling services without having to spend time and money traveling to appointments, which could require them driving an average of 78 miles to one of their two locations (Bismarck and Fargo). Through a data-enabled iPad loaner program, accompanied with HIPAA compliant, cloud-based video conferencing software, the victimized youth receive virtual, evidence-based mental health therapies.
The counseling sessions are led by a licensed clinician in a safe, secure, and private place such as a home, school, or another community agency under the supervision of a trusted caregiver. Throughout these trauma-focused, cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, CACND has been able to demonstrate the positive measurable impact on child victims by reducing trauma symptoms and increasing the child’s caregiver satisfaction.
“We bring team members together such as law enforcement, social services, prosecution, medical, mental health and advocacy groups, so the child only has to tell their story one time. We can all work together to build better cases, but the child can more seamlessly go through the system and begin the healing.”
- Paula Condol, Executive Director, Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center
In addition to cost savings and the time and hassle of driving long distances to appointments, children are able to remain in school throughout the day. Further, follow-up surveys have shown resounding support for the program from children — 100% of participants agree that receiving therapy with telehealth helped them feel better. This new initiative has allowed CACND to support children in hard-to-reach places, such as low-income and rural families.
Throughout the Telehealth Outreach Program, they’ve increased their caseload by 805% from 2019 to 2020. As the program is in its third year, they’ve created a strong infrastructure with the iPad loaner program, along with a solid process for providing protocols for other evidence-based mental health services. They aim to eliminate the enormous gap in mental health services for rural North Dakota, by providing abused and neglected youth with hope, health and healing.
“The benefits of this program have been the ability to reach kids and their families for various reasons, whether it’s the barriers that keep them from attending appointments in the office, to weather, like when there’s a blizzard and all the schools are closed, I can still see the children that I serve by telehealth in their bedroom. So being able to continue those services without interruption.”
- Anna Schimmelpfennig, Assistant Mental Health Director, Red River Children’s Advocacy Center
Be sure to implement Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Dakota’s resourceful tactics when developing sustainable, revenue-generating programs for your nonprofit:
Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Dakota is comprised of three different nonprofits that come together to help children and families when there’s been a report of abuse. These nonprofits work together to ensure that every child in North Dakota has access to its multidisciplinary team approach to the investigation and intervention of child abuse, while minimizing any further disruption for the child. Their vision is that every child in North Dakota who needs it will have reasonable, consistent access to the full array of evidence-based Children’s Advocacy Center services and an effective, multidisciplinary response to his or her case and care. Learn more.
Has your nonprofit developed new innovative campaign initiatives? Be sure to enter our 2022 Resourcefullness Awards. The application process is set to open July 14, 2022 and all U.S. states will be eligible to apply. The firm will award a $50,000 prize to one 501(c)(3) organization.
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