Healing Outreach Prevention & Education
Children who have been abused need a friendly, non-threatening place to divulge their painful stories. They need caring adults who will protect, reassure and advocate for them. The Kids’ HOPE Center is that kind of place, with that kind of people.
Kids’ Hope Center investigates abuse allegations from communities throughout Coos County and beyond. Following the “medical model” of abuse investigations, Kids’ HOPE focuses primarily on meeting the whole-health physical and emotional needs of victims. Instead of telling a painful story again and again to a succession of strangers, a child visiting Kids’ HOPE experiences a single interview with a specially trained forensic investigator. Video recordings of these neutral, non-leading interviews take the place of repeated questioning and can even be admitted in court.
A board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Jenni DeLeon, examines child victims to assess their condition and to gather evidence for potential prosecutions. Throughout the process, children are treated with respect, gentleness, and reassurance.
Although the “medical model” of investigation focuses on the child’s physical and emotional needs, it also has proved to be an effective technique for gathering evidence to be used in criminal cases. Kids’ HOPE has a strong record of contributing to prosecutions and convictions.
Bay Area Hospital is proud to provide administrative and financial support for Kids’ HOPE’s essential work on behalf of the community’s children.
About Kids' HOPE
Vision: To create a community where no child experiences neglect or abuse.
Mission: The Kids’ HOPE Center exists to reduce child abuse through community awareness, intervention, and to provide supports for healing and victim justice.
History of the Kids' HOPE Center
In its early years, the team met at the office of Services to Children and Families on Elrod Street in Coos Bay. Later, the Children’s Advocacy Center was established in the county’s North Bend Annex. A local non-profit agency, the Women’s Safety and Resource Center, assumed responsibility for the Center in 1998. It was renamed the Child Abuse Intervention Center (CAIC) in 2011.
The Children We Serve
Why This Work Matters
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18
- More than 6,800 children were served by Oregon’s Child Abuse Intervention Centers (CAICs) between July 2011 and June 2012
- Child sexual abuse was involved in 47 percent of these cases
- Among child abuse victims seen by Oregon CAICs, 89 percent knew their abusers
- 40 percent of children seen by Oregon CAICs were under the age of 6
- 72 percent were under age 12
- In 2010, 80 percent of U.S. children who died due to abuse or neglect were younger than 4
- The rate of child abuse in the United States is more than double the UK’s rate and triple Germany’s
- One-third to half of all abused or maltreated children fit the criteria for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Both the stress of abuse and the lack of stimulation that comes with neglect impede normal development of a child’s brain
- 90 percent of participants surveyed in Oregon said the center they visited had facilitated healing for the child and the caregiver
- 94 percent of participants surveyed felt said the services they had received had helped them and their children
- 93 percent said they would mention the center to anyone dealing with a similar situation
What To Expect
Coming to the Kids’ HOPE Center can be daunting to both children and families. We hope the following information helps prepare you and your child to have a comfortable experience and a positive outcome:
Preparing Your Child
Let your child know about the appointment in advance. Your child may or may not understand the purpose of this meeting. Assure your child that you’re going to a safe place, where new friends want to talk with the child and make sure the child is healthy and safe. You can tell your child the appointment will include no shots or pain.
When you arrive at the center, our friendly team members will introduce themselves to you and your child, briefly explaining the appointment process. You’ll need to sign a consent form. A Kids’ HOPE Center advocate will help you fill out paperwork, including a social and medical history, and answer any questions you have.
After that, you will remain in the waiting area while your child is interviewed by our forensic specialist. We’re happy to discuss any questions or concerns you have about this interview. Our goal is to make the process as easy and comfortable as possible for you and your child. Your child can stop the interview at any time and won’t be forced to answer unwanted questions.
A trained professional will ask your child non-leading, non-threatening questions following the Oregon Child Forensic Interviewing Guidelines. Other team members, such as law enforcement and child welfare professionals, will monitor the interview from a different room. Only one person will ask your child questions. The interview is recorded.
Program interviewers have experience talking with children of all ages. They will adapt the interview to your child’s specific emotional, developmental, and behavioral needs. Your child will never be forced to talk if he or she is not comfortable. The interview can be stopped at any time if the child wishes to not continue.
Depending on details of the case and what your child discloses, your child may be referred for a medical appointment. A pediatrician will explain the exam so your child will know what to expect.
Your child will be given choices throughout the exam, with the encouragement to ask questions about it. Children are looked at from head to toe, but we never force children to participate in any part of the exam that they choose not to.
Sometimes an assessment of your child’s genital area is required, particularly if sexual abuse is suspected. The pediatrician will not use any instruments to touch your child or hurt the child in any way.
The exam is very different from the routine pelvic exams performed on adult women. A lighted magnifying device called a colposcope is used to assess injuries, but it never touches your child. Pictures taken during this exam may be used as evidence in your child’s case if it goes to court.
You will be invited to speak with the evaluation team before leaving. The team members will explain what they learned during the interview and/or physical evaluation. You will be given the opportunity to ask questions and express concerns. Reports from the medical evaluation and the forensic interview will be sent to the approved community professionals involved in your child’s case. With permission, we may refer you to see your child’s medical provider and also make recommendations for therapy.
Child and Family Support
Kids’ HOPE Center is part of a multidisciplinary team of agencies and care providers in the county. Though we currently don’t offer any in-house therapy or support, we can refer you to agencies that do. We understand that when a child has experienced abuse, the family involved also must cope with what has happened. If your family needs shelter, food, or therapy, we encourage you to share this information with the assigned family advocate, so that we can help direct you to the appropriate resources.
The Legal System
Whether a child abuse investigation leads to prosecution depends on details of the individual case. Whenever a child abuse case has a potential criminal component, local law enforcement refers the case to the county District Attorney’s Office, which decides whether the case should be prosecuted or dismissed.
Open-ended, non-leading questions are asked during the forensic interview of your child. For that reason, recordings of the interview may be used as evidence in court, along with any information gleaned from medical assessment of the child.
The legal process is different in every situation. The Kids’ HOPE Center team and our community partners will work hard to help prepare you and your child for what to expect concerning your specific case.
No needles, no pain
The medical evaluation is an important part of the investigation, often providing valuable evidence. In order to obtain the most accurate information possible, children are examined without the presence of a parent or caregiver. This approach encourages children to share information they might withhold if they fear the information might upset a caregiver.
Our pediatrician follows an exam protocol to evaluate every part of your child’s body. The doctor asks questions throughout the evaluation about each part of your child’s body. This thorough evaluation is important for collecting potential evidence, but your child is reassured throughout the exam process. Children are never forced to participate in any part of the assessment if they do not want to.
It is our preference to use our county’s Designated Medical Professional, Dr. Jenni DeLeon, because of her experience and specialized training in working with child abuse cases. You can, however, request that your child see the child’s own pediatrician if it is determined to be in the best interest of the child and the case.
We are working toward equipping two exam rooms at the center in order to begin providing this service in-house. For the time being, evaluations are conducted at Dr. DeLeon’s office at North Bend Medical Center.
Examination of the child’s genital area is often the most stressful part of the exam for parents and children. We assure you that this part of the exam is as minimally invasive as possible, with no equipment touching your child or causing pain.
Your child will be reassured throughout the process that no part of this examination is painful. A lighted magnifying device called a colposcope is used to identify any visible clues or evidence of abuse. This exam is not at all the same exam a woman experiences during a pelvic exam or pap smear. The colposcope does not touch the child. Photographs of any injuries discovered during the exam may be used as evidence.
We understand that children who have been abused are concerned about their safety and their bodies. This exam is intended to help restore their sense of trust and safety. We want children to feel comfortable sharing their stories in a caring, child-centered environment.
FAQ - Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the medical examination process:
Is the medical exam required?
- The abuse allegation is sexual in nature
- The abuse allegation involved the child’s genital area
- The child has symptoms of pain or bruising on any body part
- The child or parent has questions that can best be answered by a physician
- The child requests an examination or requires reassurance that can be provided through an exam
- The type of abuse is unclear and/or may be clarified by a thorough examination
- The child shows emotional or physical signs of abuse
Who can be present during the exam?
Will the exam hurt?
No part of the exam should be painful for your child, and your child will be given choices throughout the entire exam. Children are never forced to participate in any part of the exam. The exam of the genital area is done with equipment that never touches your child. The pediatrician will work hard to reassure your child throughout the exam.
Why do you take pictures?
Pictures often provide evidence to help your child’s case. These pictures are never shared with anyone who is not part of the investigative and legal team.
About Karly’s Law
Meet Dr. DeLeon
The Kids’ HOPE Center’s Medical Director is Jenni DeLeon, MD. She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and has practiced at North Bend Medical Center since 2004.
Dr. DeLeon graduated from Harvard University in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. She completed her medical school training in 1997 at the University of Vermont, after which she served an internship and residency in pediatrics at University of Arizona in Tucson. She speaks fluent Spanish.
As the county’s Designated Medical Professional (DMP) under Karly’s Law, she reviews and oversees all Karly’s Law cases in Coos County. Because of her training and expertise, she is the medical resource for all physicians in Coos concerning child abuse issues and needs.
Inside the ‘Truth Room’
The forensic interview is conducted by a trained forensic interviewer in a child-friendly setting. Interviews are conducted in a neutral, legally sound style, and they are coordinated to avoid questioning the child over and over. The interview is personalized to meet each child’s developmental age and cognitive, social and emotional abilities.
The interview takes place in a safe space known as the “Truth Room.” The child is in the room with just one interviewer, but other team members observe from a nearby observation room. The interview is recorded for use in any necessary court hearings, minimizing the number of times your child will have to repeat the story.
Kids’ HOPE Center works with community partners using a shared investigation approach. The benefits of this model result in:
- Reducing the number of times a child is interviewed
- Minimizing the number of people involved in the case
- Enhancing the quality of evidence
- Using resources more efficiently
- Minimizing conflicts among agencies
At the onset of an investigation, an initial field interview is necessary to verify that a child is healthy and safe, as well as to determine whether a criminal investigation is needed. This is the time when any other victims or witnesses may be identified. Findings from the initial field interview often indicate the need for an in-depth forensic interview at the Kids’ HOPE Center. The goal is to let your child tell the story from start to finish just one time, in a safe space with trained forensic specialists.
FAQ - Here are answers to common questions about forensic interviews:
Why will my child be interviewed alone?
Children are interviewed alone because they are less open when parents or caregivers are present. Children sometimes will minimize or deny victimization as a way to protect their parents or other loved ones.
Why can’t the interview take place at home?
Children should be interviewed in a controlled, neutral environment that conveys a sense of security and privacy. It needs to be equipped to record the interview to be used as evidence.
Why does a forensic interviewer have to question my child?
Forensic interviewers are familiar with child development and children’s linguistic abilities. They are trained to elicit information from children in a neutral, non-leading way, so that the child’s testimony will hold up in court.
Why do others have to observe my child’s interview?
Observers, such as police officers, child welfare officials, doctors and prosecutors, help ensure the needed information is gathered in one interview, sparing the child from repeated questioning. Observers also may intervene if the child discloses any immediate health or safety threat.
Why is the interview recorded?
Audio-video recordings are standard practice throughout the nation. These recordings capture the affect and testimony of the child, and they help minimize the number of times a child needs to restate the story and relive the trauma.
What you can do
Don’t ever assume that your children are safe, even if they are being cared for by someone you know well. Approximately 90 percent of all child abuse cases involve offenders whom the child and/ or the child’s family know and trust.
Do not expect children to protect themselves from abuse or to alert you about abuse. Children often are too scared or ashamed to tell an adult they’ve been hurt, even adults they trust. Many children are threatened or bribed by their abusers, and children feel shame for what has happened to them, believing it is their fault or that they “asked for it.”
Here are steps you can take to protect your children from abuse:
- Listen, believe and trust what they tell you. Children rarely lie about being abused, and they often fear telling an adult about it.
- Always let your children know that anything they tell you will not get them in trouble. If someone makes them feel unsafe, they should never be afraid of getting in trouble for telling you.
- Know your child’s friends and everyone in the homes your child will visit before the child is ever alone with anyone. Never let your child into a home that you have not visited or be cared for by adults whom you have not met.
- Have regular discussions with your children about abuse, their bodies, and their right to protect themselves by saying “no.” Don’t wait for them to bring it up.
- Teach your child what is healthy and normal physical, emotional, and sexual behavior. Be open and honest. If you do not teach your child, someone else will.
- Give your children specific, age-appropriate information on where bodies should or should not be touched. Let them know it’s never OK for someone to touch them, and it’s OK to tell if someone does.
- Tell your children that they should socialize only with people with whom they feel safe. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult about anyone who makes them feel unsafe, scared or anxious, or who touches them in any way that they do not like. Make sure they know they will not get in trouble for telling an adult.
- Tell your children that any touching that makes them uncomfortable is never OK, emphasizing that no touching should ever be kept a secret. Let them know that someone might try to trick them into thinking it is OK, but it is never OK for an adult to tell them to keep a secret. Let them know that if someone tells them to keep a secret that involves touching or abuse, that means the person is doing something bad, and they should tell another adult right away.
- Learn about the sex education and child abuse prevention programs at your child’s school.
Watch for signs or symptoms of abuse, and ask questions. Do not wait until you have confirmed that there is a problem. Investigate concerns early.
- Be cautious of anyone who wants to spend a lot of time alone with your child, even if you think you can trust that person.
The “Stewards of Children” program teaches local adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child abuse. Learn more
Types of Abuse
Child abuse can happen anywhere, to any child. The risk for abuse exists whenever a child has interactions with others. Abuse can manifest itself in many ways, and not all forms of child abuse leave visible or obvious signs. Visible or not, abuse can cause a lifelong impact on the child’s body and mind.
The primary types of child abuse are:
- Witnessing abuse or domestic violence
- Drug exposure and endangerment
Signs of Abuse
Sleep pattern changes — Children may have nightmares. They may have difficulty falling asleep and appear tired throughout the day.
Changes at school — A child who has been abused may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences. Sometimes adults will keep the child home to hide suspicious injuries.
If You Suspect Abuse
Where to report abuse
Coos County Sheriff’s Department (541) 396-2106
Oregon State Police (541) 269-5000
North Bend Police (541) 756-3161
Coos Bay Police (541) 269-8111
Bandon Police (541) 347-2241
Coquille Police (541) 396-2114
Myrtle Point Police (541) 572-2124
- Powers Police (541) 439-2411
County Mental Health Department
- Coos County (541) 756-8601
Child Abuse Hotlines
Oregon DHS 1-855-503-SAFE (7233)
You Can Help
The community has a collective responsibility to help and protect our kids. The continued support of volunteers and sponsors like you allows the Kids’ HOPE Center to continue doing the work we do. We appreciate anyone who is interested in volunteering or helping our organization thrive. Our support comes mostly from grants, donations, and public participation in fundraising events.
Be a “Steward of Children”
Approximately half of the child abuse investigations in Coos County involve a sexual abuse component. In partnership with the Ford Family Foundation, the Kids’ HOPE Center has set the goal of teaching 5 percent of all Coos County adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse cases.
“Stewards of Children” is a nationally acclaimed, evidence-based curriculum from the Darkness to Light organization. (Click here for an informative video.) Kids’ HOPE Center believes that through partnership and education, we can improve the lives of our community’s children.
This free training is recommended not only for individuals who work with children through their professions, but to any adult who feels responsible for protecting a child. Classes are offered the fourth Tuesday of every month, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at the Kids’ HOPE Center.
Individualized private training also is available for businesses, parent groups, churches, and other organizations. When requested in advance, workshops and materials can be provided in Spanish.
Please call Kids’ HOPE at (541) 266-8806 to reserve your individual spot in a monthly workshop, or to schedule a workshop for your group.
The Kids’ HOPE Center is proud to be a “Partner in Prevention.” This designation is awarded by the nonprofit Darkness to Light. It’s a title only given to organization in which at least 90% of workers and volunteers have completed Stewards of Children training.
Volunteering and Supporting Kids’ HOPE
Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering or donating to the program. We have an active volunteer program as well as a successful history with associate-level through graduate-level student internships.
To volunteer, please contact:
To make a financial contribution, please contact:
Donations help the center provide best-practice services to child victims. Financial support is always appreciated. We also need everyday items such as non-perishable, single-serving snacks, juice boxes, and new stuffed animals.
For information about Kids’ HOPE’s current “wish list,” please call Kids’ HOPE at (541) 266-8806.