When a child comes to the Meadowlark House, the child and their caregiver are greeted by their advocate and the people investigating their case. This generally includes a social worker with the Kansas Department for Children and Families as well as specially trained law enforcement officers. The Meadowlark House is a comfortable, private, child friendly setting designed to ensure the child and the child’s caregivers physical and psychological safety.
There is an advocate for each family, who specifically focuses on the needs and the safety of each child and the child’s caregiver(s). This could include assisting with protection orders, finding safe housing, filling out crime victim’s compensation, teaching a family about court and accompanying a family through that process. The resources provided by the advocate vary with the needs of the family.
Children who come to the Meadowlark House for Forensic Interviews are already part of an investigation by the Department for Children and Families or law enforcement as either the victim or the witness to a crime. Forensic Interview is the name of the type of interview kids participate in when disclosing allegations of abuse. All children are interviewed by a fully trained interviewer. Interviewers are trained to ensure that the interviews are not leading or suggestive and appropriate for the age and developmental level of the child.
The Meadowlark Team was formed to ensure that children and their families were getting the best care. Members of the Meadowlark Team include Detectives from the Dodge City Police Department, Investigators from the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, Social Workers from the Kansas Department for Children and Families, Attorneys and Advocates from the Ford County Attorney’s Office, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners from Dodge City Medical Center and Western Plains Medical Complex, Therapists from various mental health providers, Counselors from Dodge City Public Schools, and an Advocate and the CAC Coordinator employed by the Meadowlark House. They work to ensure that families’ needs are being met, the investigation of each case is done timely and well, and that cross-training occurs so each member understands the needs and motivations of the others.
Mental Health – All children and caregivers will be referred to mental health providers who have specific training in working with children in trauma.
Medical Services – Children will be referred for medical exams at the time the crime is reported if there has been an incident of abuse within the past few days. However, most children do not report abuse immediately and will be referred for an exam following the forensic interview. These exams are done by highly trained nurses who will talk to the parent, the child and then complete a non-invasive exam. The goal of the exam is to let the child know that they are okay. The goal is not to find evidence that abuse did or did not occur.