When talking to the staff or board at Ray of Hope, it won’t take long before you hear about our Multidisciplinary Team. It’s the foundation of the work we do. In fact, we’re so committed to the team approach that our mission statement mandates “a coordinated community response”, but what does that mean?
When responding to child abuse allegations, we know that a community response begins with our partner agencies. It means that as a multidisciplinary team, we agree on an annual basis to work together when intervening in child abuse cases. We understand that no one agency or individual has all of the resources or information they need – that as a team, we know more by working together and relying on the expertise of the other professionals at the table. A child abuse multidisciplinary team is legislated and includes professionals and experts in the field of child protection. Meet our team:
- The District Attorney’s Office makes decisions in both criminal and civil child abuse cases. Often, the case ends with them, but they rely on the work of investigators and experts to help them make decisions about what’s in the best interest of the child.
- The Department of Human Services, Child Protective Services has a legal mandate to investigate allegations of child abuse. These front-line responders are working under difficult circumstances and making safety decisions about children and families each day.
- Law Enforcement agencies, like the Bartlesville Police Department, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Dewey Police Department, often work in tandem with Child Protective Services to ensure that children are safe. They also have the responsibility to determine if a crime has been committed when investigating cases of abuse.
- Medical Professionals are a part of our team to not only provide forensic medical examination, but to also serve as an expert to help the team understand medical evidence (or the lack of) and to make recommendations for medical interventions if needed.
- Mental Health experts serve to inform the team of the mental health needs of children impacted by trauma. They answer questions about the impact that abuse has on children and families and make recommendations about trauma focused interventions that lead to healing.
- Ray of Hope serves as the facilitators for this team. We provide forensic interviewing, medical exams, victim advocacy and training in an effort to ensure that the team has the information and resources they need to make decisions in cases of child abuse and neglect.
A coordinated community response also means involving our local community in the work of recognizing, responding to and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. Ray of Hope has a training program to help teachers, neighbors, families and friends recognize the signs of abuse and report those concerns to law enforcement or child protective services. We’re spreading the word that EVERY person in our community is a mandated reporter. It takes a commitment from our community that no child will fall through the cracks, or get looked over – we’re pledging to be the safety net that children need.
If you want to understand our commitment to a community response – come for a tour, sign up for a training or visit our website (www.rayofhopeac.org) to learn more!