Child & Family Counseling Frequently Asked Questions
- My child seems fine. There have been no changes in her/his behavior. Why does she/he need counseling?
Children deal with difficult experiences in a variety of ways. Your child's reaction to being a victim of abuse is unique to her/him. Sometimes when children seem fine, they may still have questions or distressing thoughts about what occurred. Counseling can help to give your child and you some tools to deal with what has happened.
- I just want her/him to forget this ever happened and for our family to move forward. Will counseling cause my child to keep thinking about her/his abuse and create more problems?
It is natural to wish that abuse never happened and to want life to go back to the way things were. We do not know how much of what your child has experienced will be remembered. What we do know is that we cannot erase the past or change what has already occurred. We believe it is important for your child to have the opportunity to talk about his/her experiences through play therapy, group therapy and/or traditional talk therapy. A therapist will never force a child to talk about what has happened, however, we often find that addressing what has occurred in a therapy setting is many times the quickest path to wellness.
- My child says he/she does not want to talk about what happened anymore and does not want to go to counseling. Do I still need him/her go to counseling?
When abuse (especially sexual abuse) occurs, there is often a lot of secrecy that surrounds the act. This same secrecy about abuse makes it hard for children to disclose and talk about it openly. It also increases the chances that they may hold on to thoughts and feelings about themselves that are not healthy, which may negatively impact their ability to function in some areas of their lives. In addition to your support, counseling provides another way they can talk about what has happened to them.
- I do not have the money or health insurance to pay for my child's counseling. What can I do about this?
There are some individual and group-counseling programs that are grant funded in our Family Support Program (FSP) and you may not have any out-of-pocket expenses. You may also be eligible for reimbursement of expenses through the Ohio Attorney General Crime Victim Services.
- I am a single parent and my son/daughter has been referred to counseling services. It is difficult to take time off from work and I do not want my child to miss time from school. Will a therapist be able to work with my schedule?
Every therapist is different. However, many will have some flexibility in their schedules to try to accommodate you. We firmly believe that investing time in counseling now can help your child deal with the thoughts and feelings that often occur with victims of abuse. Our therapist can help him/her improve their ability to deal with current circumstances and other difficult situations, which may occur later in life. Many times, abuse does not leave lasting physical scars. Therefore, people, including the children, are tempted to think that further treatment is unnecessary. It is important to help make sure your child is healing mentally and emotionally from what has happened to him/her. A trained therapist can be invaluable in this process. Your support and active participation will help with the success of treatment. Often, the counselor is able to estimate how long the treatment might last and discuss any concerns.
- I feel I know my child better than anyone and I am not sure how a therapist will help. What will the therapist offer?
It is not a therapist's job to take over any of your responsibilities as a parent. Parents can often be blindsided by their child's abuse. Sometimes outside professional support and expertise can help the whole family heal from this experience in a healthier manner. Therapy offers an added safety net for your child and family to help ensure that you all will have the tools to cope with this experience. We know that the most important person in your child's life at this time is you. Your belief in your child, willingness to protect him/her and love for him/her is irreplaceable. Counseling is meant as a support that will enhance what you are already seeking to provide to your child.
- Before the abuse happened, my child had some behavioral problems and is in counseling. I feel the current counseling may not be helping, so how will this be different?
Counseling for sexual and/or physical abuse is meant to address issues and help your child and family heal from that experience. The counseling for sexual and/or physical abuse is a different type of counseling than the counseling your child has had in the past to address their general behavioral concerns. Your child may need continued therapeutic interventions to address other mental health and/or behavioral issues. It will be important to discuss this concern with the treatment team that is providing the counseling for the sexual and/or physical abuse.
- I am struggling to believe my child's disclosure of abuse. My child has lied about other things, so how do I know that he/she is not lying about this too?
Other parents have struggled with believing their child's disclosure of abuse. It may be especially difficult to believe your child when the person they are accusing is someone you have trusted. What we know is that the overwhelming majority of children do not lie about their victimization history. A counseling environment provides a safe place for your child and you to express what you think and feel without judgment. A skilled therapist, who has expertise addressing abuse issues, will help you to work through your concerns.
Child Abuse/Neglect Frequently Asked Questions
- What happens during a child abuse and neglect investigation?
Typically, when abuse or neglect is reported, two investigations take place at the same time. The child protective services agency in the county where the parent(s) or guardian resides is responsible for making sure the child is safe. The law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the incident took place is responsible for determining if criminal charges will be filed. Most investigations are handled by a detective and a child protective services investigator that work together. They may also encourage that the child victim be assessed at the Child Assessment Center at The Center for Family Safety and Healing, or another child advocacy center in your area.
The child protective services investigator will talk to all family members and other individuals that the caseworker believes are important to the investigation. The investigator will likely have to visit the child's home to ensure safety. An investigation by a child protective services agency will typically take 30-45 days to complete. The caseworker, with involvement from the family, will then decide whether there is a need for continued involvement to assist the family.
Law enforcement will also interview individuals they believe may have information related to allegations. They will attempt to gather evidence that might be related to the concern. The law enforcement investigation may take longer than the child protective services investigation. The detective needs to have all of the information before making a decision about recommending charges to a prosecutor. If charges are filed, the case is transferred for further disposition to the Franklin County Prosecutor Office or Prosecutor's Office for the appropriate county.
- My child has behaviors that I think are concerning for sexual abuse. How do I know if the behaviors are normal?
We encourage you to talk to your primary care provider/pediatrician. Physicians are trained in child development and should be able to assist you in recognizing areas of concern. If you have specific concerns that your child may have been abused, you may call the Child Assessment Center at The Center for Family Safety and Healing at (614) 722-3278 for further discussion. If your child is working with any behavioral health professional, please talk with them regarding your concerns.
- My child's genitals look abnormal to me and I am worried there might be abuse happening. How do I know what abuse looks like? What are the physical signs of sexual abuse?
Caregivers occasionally have concerns regarding the appearance of their child's genitalia. If this is your primary concern, we encourage you to talk to your child's primary care provider/pediatrician. Rarely does an abnormal appearance indicate that a child has been sexually abused. If you have specific concerns that your child may have been abused, you can call the Child Assessment Center at The Center for Family Safety and Healing at (614) 722-3278 for further discussion.
Child Assessment Center Frequently Asked Questions
- What should I tell my child about his/her appointment?
Before coming to the CAC, you should let your child know that he/she will meet with one or two people whose job it is to talk to children about safety. Please tell your child that it is okay to tell them everything that he/she has told you. We request that you do not ask your child any further questions about the incident; however, listen if he/she chooses to talk.
- How can I get a copy of the medical record after the visit?
Typically, the medical record may take 7-10 days to be completed and reach the Health Information Management Department (HIM). Due to HIPAA regulations, all medical records must be obtained through HIM. They may be contacted at (614) 355-0777 to obtain copies of the record.
Elder Abuse Frequently Asked Questions
- What happens during an elder abuse or neglect investigation?
Adult Protective Services is required to initiate an investigation of "emergency" reports within 24 hours of referral or all other reports within three business days. Emergency reports are ones in which there is suspected to be a substantial risk of immediate harm to the elderly person. The investigator is required to meet face-to-face with the person reported to have been abused or neglected. A determination is made in writing as to whether or not there is a need for further protective services.
- What happens if someone refuses to cooperate with an investigation?
The Probate Court is responsible for determining if requests for an investigation are reasonable, and the responsibility of the person suspected of abuse or neglect to respond. Adult Protective Services can petition the court for assistance when the person suspected of abuse or neglect refuses to cooperate with their investigation.
- What services might Adult Protective Services provide?
Adult Protective Services provides case management services, including referrals for mental health services, legal services, medical services, housing-related services, guardianship, financial management, food, clothing or shelter.
Help Me Grow Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Help Me Grow Home Visiting?
Help Me Grow Home Visiting is a program for first-time mothers. If you enroll, a specially trained home visitor will visit you in your home throughout pregnancy and continue to visit until your child is 3 years old.
- How often will my home visitor visit?
Your home visitor will visit every week or two, during your pregnancy and continue with visits until your baby is 3 years old. You and your home visitor will decide the exact schedule.
- How much does the program cost?
Help Me Grow Home Visiting is no cost to eligible women and families.
- Who can enroll in the program?
The following people can enroll in the Help Me Grow Home Visiting Program:
- First-time pregnant women (must meet Help Me Grow income requirements or currently receive Medicaid or WIC)
- A first-time parent with a child less than 6 months of age (must meet Help Me Grow income requirements or currently receive Medicaid or WIC)
- Any family with a child under age 3 that is involved with child protective services in a substantiated case
- Can my baby's father participate?
Help Me Grow Home Visiting encourages fathers, family members and even friends to be involved in the visits and learn how they can best support you.
You and your home visitor decide who gets involved.
Nurse-Family Partnership Frequently Asked Questions
- What is Nurse-Family Partnership?
Nurse-Family Partnership is a program for women who are having their first baby. If you enroll, a specially trained nurse will visit you in your home throughout your pregnancy and continue to visit until your baby is 2 years old.
- How often will my nurse visit?
Your nurse will visit every week or two during your pregnancy and continue with visits until your baby is 2 years old. You and your nurse will decide the exact schedule.
- How much does the program cost?
Nurse-Family Partnership is no cost to eligible women.
- Who can enroll in the program?
Any woman may enroll if she:
- Is pregnant with her first child
- Meets income requirements
- Is no later than 28 weeks gestation
Also, you can join as early in your pregnancy as you like!
- Can my baby's father participate?
Nurse-Family Partnership encourages fathers, family members and even friends to be involved in the visits and learn how they can best support you. You and your nurse decide who gets involved.
Because you are the one who carries the baby and you are the first person to take care of your baby, you are the one who is actually enrolled in the program. You will be the nurse's main focus.
Volunteer Frequently Asked Questions
- How old must I be to volunteer?
As an individual, you must be 21 years old. Exceptions will be made for special group projects.
- How do I apply to be a volunteer?
The Center for Family Safety and Healing
Attn: Volunteer Coordinator
655 East Livingston Avenue
Columbus, OH 43205
Since The Center for Family Safety and Healing is an entity of Nationwide Children's Hospital, all volunteers must follow hospital volunteer protocol. Exceptions may be made for certain special projects.
- Who will follow-up with me regarding my application?
You will receive a formal letter confirming that your application was received. After your references have been received, the Program Coordinator will set up an appointment to meet with you. Upon completion of the interview process, you will have an FBI and/or BCI background check completed.
- If I apply, am I automatically accepted?
Volunteering at The Center for Family Safety and Healing may not be a perfect match for everyone. We will work with you and the Family and Volunteer Services Department at Nationwide Children's to help you determine what volunteer opportunities might be a good fit for you.
- Is there training that I have to do prior to volunteering?
Volunteers are expected to attend the volunteer hospital training and receive a one-on-one, site-specific training session at The Center for Family Safety and Healing. Some special projects may not require this training.
- If I am accepted as a volunteer, what will I be doing?
If you are helping at The Center for Family Safety and Healing with the Child Assessment Center, Family Support Program or Help Me Grow, you will be assisting families and children that are here for appointments. Your role is to spend time with the children while they are waiting. You may be asked to play games, blocks, Legos, cards, read books, play in the miniature kitchen or enjoy any of the other toys in the play area. You are helping to set the stage for the child to have a good experience during his or her appointment.
- What do I do if I am volunteering for a special project?
If you are interested in volunteering for The New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day, please visit the website to get more information and to sign up. Please note that special, event-specific training is required and is traditionally scheduled one to two weeks prior to the event. If you are interested in helping with wrapping gifts for children at holiday time, working with a parenting group or coordinating a toy drive, please contact our Program Coordinator at (614) 722-3278.
- How much time is expected of me to volunteer?
With the exception of special projects, we ask that you be willing to volunteer at least twice a month for six-month time periods. However, the amount of time depends on your availability and the need of volunteer opportunities at the time.
- What if I am not able to volunteer at my scheduled time?
If you are not able to work your shift, please notify the Program Coordinator at (614) 722-3278 as soon as possible, in order to make alternative plans.
- What is the dress code to be a volunteer?
Volunteers are required to wear a shirt with a collar or blouse, pants or skirt (knee-length or longer) and comfortable, closed-toed shoes. Volunteers are not permitted to wear blue jeans, capris, shorts, sweatpants, mini-skirts, spandex leggings or shorts, hats, sandals, open-toed shoes, flip flops, tennis shoes or large jewelry. Exceptions may be made for certain special projects.
- Where will I park?
Free parking is available behind our building located at 655 East Livingston Avenue in Columbus, Ohio, 43205. Our parking lot is accessible from Wager Street off of East Livingston Avenue.
- Can I receive credit or acknowledgement for my volunteer time?
We are happy to offer volunteers with a record of their service time. If you are fulfilling service hours or obtaining credit for volunteering, we ask that you let our Program Coordinator know on your application and during your interview. All acknowledgements of hours will be assessed upon acceptance as a volunteer. Please give a one-week notice and a written request to the Program Coordinator. This allows for adequate preparation of your request.
- What do I do if I would like to volunteer in another part of the hospital?
If you are interested in volunteering in a different part of the hospital, please contact Family and Volunteer Services at (614) 722-3635.