KARE, Evergreen Foundation partnership provides additional services for child victims of abuse

Special to The Mountaineer
By Denise Coleman | Dec 20, 2013

Walking through the door at the KARE (Kids Advocacy and Resource Effort) house in Waynesville it is easy to see how Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) such as this provide the warmth and comfort needed by the child victims of abuse that they serve. The house is filled with toys and child friendly furnishings to create a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere where the child can feel safe.

KARE has been a vital part of the Haywood County community since 1991. The center provides critical crisis intervention for child victims of abuse, neglect and sexual abuse.  According to Julie Schroer, KARE executive director, statistics show that as many as one in eight children will be sexually abused prior to reaching 18 years old.  That translates to more than 1,300 children who live in Haywood County.  This past year, KARE served approximately 200 children.  In many of these cases the children came to KARE to participate in a forensic interview.  In other cases, a Child Medical Evaluation was also necessary to confirm the child’s well-being.  To date, KARE has been unable to provide this service and the children and non-offending caregivers must travel to Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville to have this evaluation completed.  A grant awarded by the Evergreen Foundation will allow this service to be provided at the KARE house.

Schroer believes that child medical evaluations have been a missing piece to KARE services. Not only is the KARE House less intimidating, it will also enable the family to get their needed services within the County which will provide more continuity and support for the child and family.

“Providing the forensic interviews and child medical evaluations at KARE means less time, less travel and less traumatic impact on the child victim of abuse," said Schroer. "The KARE house is family and child friendly to such an extent, that often, children ask if they can come back to visit us again and then we know that we have provided a place that is comfortable and safe.”

Through Evergreen Foundation funding KARE has already established an examination room and would like to begin providing child medical evaluations after the first of the year.  Evergreen funding will provide the funds for training of the medical practitioner and for the evaluations.  The medical practitioner needed for the evaluations can be a physician, nurse practitioner, or a physician’s assistant.  Ideally, the practitioner will have pediatric experience.  Currently, KARE is actively seeking to fill this position.

“We anticipate seeing children where further medical treatment is not likely needed," said Schroer.  Mission Children’s Hospital will continue to provide evaluations and services to children in severe abuse and emergency situations.”

Safety for the child victim and support is the focus of the services at KARE. Having the capacity to provide all of the services needed in one location can reduce the potential for additional trauma for the child victim. KARE will also be able to provide these services in a more-timely manner if they have someone available to conduct the child medical evaluations within the County.

For more information on child abuse prevention training opportunities or for support during a child abuse investigation call KARE at  456-8995.

The mission of the Evergreen Foundation is to improve access to and public awareness of quality prevention, treatment, and support services by the provider community to individuals and families with intellectual/developmental disabilities, behavioral health, and/or substance abuse needs in Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties. To learn more about the foundation, visit evergreenfoundationnc.org.