Posted by Carl Gerhardt on Sep 18, 2018
On 9/18/2018, Tammy Bailes, Client Services Director of "Children's Safe Harbor" (CSH) spoke to the membership of the Magnolia Rotary Club about what CSH is and what it does. Pictured above is Tammy Bailes.
Tammy told the group that CHS started in the mid 1980's and that CHS will be celebrating its 20th anniversary with a Gala at the Woodlands Waterway Marriott on 9/21/2018. She invited anyone who is interested to please attend. This fundraising luncheon will help support the process of building their new facility to serve their growing population of children who need their services.
Tammy told everyone that combined, Montgomery, San Jacinto, and Walker counties receive more than 3000 reports per year of children who have been harmed by sexual and/or physical abuse. In the past, victims seeking help faced multiple contacts with different community professionals, which created a maze of confusion and distress for the child and the family. Children's Safe Harbor has changed all of that. The goal of Children's Safe Harbor is to reduce the trauma of child victims and their non-offending caregivers by facilitating a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary team approach to intervention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual and severe physical abuse.
Tammy informed the group that CSH serves the following three counties: Montgomery, Walker & San Jacinto and that CSH is funded primarily through grants.
Tammy explained that the Family Code Law now requires every Texan (and especially professional people in authority such as doctors, teachers, policemen, etc.) to report anything that looks like it may be child abuse. The typical process for each case is as follows:
  1.  A report is made either to CPS (Child Protective Services) or Law Enforcement.
  2.  The child id brought to CSH, a part of the Montgomery County Children's Advocacy Center.
  3.  A CSH Forensic Interviewer (trained to do this) meets with the family and explains the steps going forward.
  4.  The Forensic Interviewer interviews the child (the interview is taped). This tape can then be used in future proceedings so that the child does not have to repeat the explanation for every proceeding.
  5.  If a medical exam is needed, CSH has a clinic on site.
  6.  CSH has trained counselors to help the child through a traumatic experience.
  7.  Case is Reviewed with all team members including law enforcement and CPS.
  8. One of three outcomes:
    1. Case presented to district attorney.
    2. Child and family receive mental health services.
    3. Child removed from home.
Tammy also told the group that sometimes a child may not be a victim but may be a witness to a crime These kids are treated using the same process above.
Tammy then gave everyone some statistics:
  • In 2015, all three counties reported 980 cases.
  • In 2016, all three counties reported 1169 cases.
  • In 2017, all three counties reported 1750 cases.
  • In the first 6 months of 2018, all three counties reported 1160 cases.
Tammy told the group that the following three factors are believed to be attributed to the consistent rise of the number of cases reported:
  1.  Continued growth in all three counties.
  2.  The new Family Code Law that requires professionals to report anything suspicious.
  3.  Hurricane Harvey caused high stress levels that may have pushed some individuals to the breaking point.
Tammy then told everyone that the "Average Case Child" is a 7 year old white female. When asked if children are always removed from a family, Tammy indicated that the goal is to keep a family together but in some cases removal of the child from the family is warranted.