In continuing efforts by PACES to cultivate strong relationships with community partners, Amanda Adkinson, LSCSW, therapist, is in the unique role of being a PACES employee on site at Sunflower House, Shawnee, Kan.
Since January, Amanda has been part of the child assessment team of this children’s advocacy center that brings together people and resources to provide a collaborative response to child abuse. Sunflower House coordinates investigations, child-sensitive interviews, and medical and counseling services for child victims.
Michelle Herman, president and CEO, says that Sunflower House routinely recommends follow-up counseling to deal with the trauma. “Having a therapist on site allows us not only to refer, but also to schedule the child at the time of the investigation and interview, increasing chances that the family will get the help needed for the child to heal,” she says.
Sunflower House had piloted having a therapist through a grant and found the arrangement successful. When the grant expired, the center contacted therapy partners to identify their interest in housing a therapist at Sunflower House, and PACES responded immediately. “We selected PACES based on relationship, confidence and trust,” Michelle says. “It has been a perfect partnership.”
She adds that Amanda connects comfortably with children and their caregivers, and they are eager for the support and therapy she provides. “Her caseload built quickly, and she is helping families who otherwise, due to a number of factors, may not have taken the initiative, to follow through with obtaining help,” Michelle explains. “Amanda’s expertise in trauma-focused and play therapies is very helpful to children in the healing process.”
Amanda, who has been a PACES employee for 10 years, appreciates that she can be part of someone’s healing. “While it is difficult to see the kids hurting because they’ve experienced difficult situations, it’s wonderful to watch them get through the pain and smile again,” she says.
At Sunflower House, Amanda sees clients 3 to 18 years old. She uses trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy to help kids cope in positive ways. For children under 8 and on target developmentally, she uses play therapy that is trauma-focused.
Amanda is working on completion of practicum hours for her play therapy certification. She’s completed required coursework through MidAmerica Nazarene University. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology from UMKC and her master’s in social work from the University of Kansas.
As Amanda’s caseload builds at Sunflower House, she is completing her treatment regimens for PACES consumers at Washington West. She envisions that in the near future, she will be full-time at Sunflower House. She misses the camaraderie and professional exchange with other PACES therapists, but she knows they are only a phone call away if she needs to run an idea by them to benefit a client.
(article written by Therese Horvat, PACES)
Cases of children being locked away or neglected have made headlines recently in the Kansas City area. One child advocate says people are beginning to notice this type of abuse more often.
Earlier this year, authorities discovered a teenager who had been chained to a pole in his basement in his Northland home. He was malnourished and had been out of school for months. In another case, a 10-year-old Kansas City girl had been barricaded inside a closet that reeked of urine. Now Independence police said a 9-year-old girl’s parents locked her in a basement and forced her to use the bathroom outside.
The cases are what child advocates like Virginia Lewis Brunk of Sunflower House would see.
“I think it’s really happening not necessarily more than we think. I think it’s being reported more than it was in the past,” Brunk said.
As director of child assessment, she said often times she sees parents who isolate their children because they believe they are out of options – and also because it may have been the way they were disciplined.
“Parents are reacting because of stress. They don’t know or don’t understand child development. If you can put some support that will assist with that, maybe they won’t be using such harsher choices,” Brunk said.
While Brunk always urges people to report possible abuse or neglect, she also said there’s more that the public can do before the situation turns into abuse. Brunk suggests reaching out to a struggling parent.
“Folks reach out when they see somebody in need. If you see a parent struggling, reach a hand out. Offer to bring them dinner, offer to babysit while they go to grocery store. Do things that will provide assistance,” she said.
Don’t be afraid to report possible abuse. You can do so anonymously if you suspect abuse. The hotline numbers are 1-800-922-5330 for Kansas and 1-800-392-3738 for Missouri.
Learn how Sunflower House professionals are helping sexually and physically abused children and their families in our community. Contact Sunflower House to learn how you can help prevent child abuse and help victims of abuse heal.
Kansas House Bill No. HB 2338 and Kansas Senate Bill No. SB 218 both sweep court docket fees to the judicial branch budget. For many years, these funds have provided competitive grants to Child Advocacy Centers, such as Sunflower House, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Children’s Visitation Centers to help fund their services for children.
Please contact your legislators!
Tell them your connection to Sunflower House (or one of these other agencies and why you care), and ask them to please preserve the current grant funding opportunities that provide important funding for the children served at this and other Children’s Advocacy Centers in Kansas. Sunflower House received $16,000 or more from the Attorney General’s Office for many years. Loss of this funding would hurt! If a docket fee bill passes, organizations that previously received grants would have to come to the legislator for funding. The legislature is not a granting body, it is an allocation body. This is better handled by the Attorney General’s Office that also monitors reporting standards and outcomes.
With kindest regards,
Sunflower House, Inc. President and CEO
National Children’s Alliance advocates on behalf of Children’s Advocacy Centers around the country, and around the world. Every day, thousands of children will enter a Children’s Advocacy Center to speak about the unimaginable – abuse they have experienced at the hands of adults. Children’s Advocacy Centers put the child first, helping to lessen the trauma many children experience even after the abuse has occurred. For more information and to support a Children’s Advocacy Center near you, visit www.nationalchildrensalliance.org.