With a passion to promote positive healing, Dove House Children’s Advocacy Center is a fully accredited 501(c)(3) non-profit, serving child victims of sexual assault in Alexander and Iredell counties. Through advocacy, intervention, collaboration, and education, lives are changed!
“We work to facilitate the teamwork essential for intervention and healing for children who have experienced child sexual abuse,” explains Beth McKeithan, Executive Director. “Children come to a facility specifically designed for children. It has the benefits of a house, such as a playroom and a kitchen, yet is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment such as audio/video monitoring and medical equipment to ensure only the best professional services are provided.”
All agencies responsible for investigating and providing services can join in a coordinated response at the CAC — on a child’s developmentally appropriate level. This prevents potential re–victimization by requiring children to travel to different locations to be interviewed, and served by different adult ‘strangers’.
“Support offered to the child’s non–offending family members ensures the child will have a supportive family with them through this often traumatic time,” says Beth. “We strive to meet our mission through collaborative working relationships with local police departments, the District Attorney, Department of Social Services, and mental health professionals. In addition to providing direct services such as forensic interviewing, medical examinations, and counseling to abused children, the Center also facilitates everything necessary to meet children’s needs, and to successfully investigate cases and prosecute offenders.”
The Dove House team also speaks to parent groups to educate them on the most effective way to monitor their child’s interactions online, working closely with FBI agents to keep up with trends.
“Online Safety is an important part of an educational setting’s responsibility to safeguard children,” adds Beth. “Always monitor your child’s time online, particularly younger children. Keep the computer in a central spot in the home where it’s easy to keep an eye on what your child is viewing online. For mobile devices, you can set them to forget Wi-Fi passcodes so your children cannot go online without you knowing.”
Dove House works with first and fifth graders in public schools and several charter and private schools in the area, teaching them to have a plan if someone tries to do something inappropriate. One out of four girls, and one out of six boys will be sexually abused by the time they turn 18.
“Many children didn’t know what was happening to them was wrong until our program came in,” says Beth. “They thought it was normal. We are also building our medical program through community partnerships and funding, if anyone is interested in helping with this program, they can reach out to me. It takes special people to do this work, but it’s so very important. Helping the child understand their body is okay after something like this happens is also a huge part of the medical appointment, along with collecting any physical evidence that may exist.”
Seeing kids traumatized after a sexual assault is hard, says Beth, but it’s also gratifying to empower them again, on the road to healing!
“They are not broken, something really awful happened to them that shouldn’t have. We have a team of people who run to the darkest corners of the earth to fight for the children we serve, and we are grateful to every board member, community member, staff person, and volunteer that supports Dove House.”
Because of the highly confidential and sensitive nature of the work done at Dove House, volunteers don’t work directly with clients. But many volunteers help with non-clinical projects and the group’s fundraising events. Volunteer needs may include yard or landscape “spruce-up” day, facility maintenance, and planning and set-up for special events. Dove House just had its main fundraising event in April, but next year’s event — An Evening for Dove House — will be held April 20, 2024, along with the Children’s Voice Luncheon held in the fall. Community funding and support is imperative to the organization’s work!
Dove House is located at 2407 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC, 704-883-9814. Visit them online at Dovehousecac.org, or if you are interested in having someone speak to your parent or school group, reach out to [email protected].