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Dakota Children's Advocacy Center Services

The Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center offers comprehensive, compassionate services to children and families who have been affected by abuse free of charge. 

When working with traumatized kids, professionals must have specialized training in the dynamics of child abuse. All of the staff at the Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center have this specialized training.

Advocacy Services

Advocacy focuses on the needs of the children and non-offending caregiver(s), providing needed support, referrals and information along with a compassionate, listening ear. The goal of advocacy is to help the family navigate the system while supporting them through a difficult time.

Staff at the DCAC will visit with the non-offending caregiver to offer services, education, and support and provide a listening ear. When appropriate they will conduct an in depth assessment which will help us determine appropriate services for the family. The DCAC offers a variety of resources to support children and families in crisis.

Family Therapy

The Sanford Healht Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center offers family therapy. Our therapists have been trained in helping families with the following:

• Learning how to react to and discuss stressful situations
• Improving family relationships
• Strengthening positive and healthy parenting practices
• Enhancing children’s coping with trauma
• Lessening behavioral problems
• Encouraging social skills with children

They have tools and techniques parents can use to connect with their children despite personality issues or rebellious phases.

Counseling Services

The DCAC offers Evidenced Based Trauma Therapy to kids and their families. Evidenced Based Treatments are important because the therapies that have been extensively studied and repeatedly shown to be effective in reducing a specific symptom or behavior.  Family’s and agencies know that the kids are receiving the best of care. 

The DCAC currently offers 3 evidence based models in the Bismarck and Dickinson region:

Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

(TF-CBT), has the highest evidence base rating in treating kids with PTSD symptoms. In randomized trials, TF-CBT has been directly compared and found to be more effective than routine community care (generalized counseling), nondirective supportive therapy (play therapy) and child-centered therapy. TF-CBT is appropriate for children ages 3-18 and their non-offending caregivers. 

Alternatives for Families: A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

(AF-CBT) was developed for caregivers and children ages 6-adolescence who have a history of caregiver physical abuse or coercive parenting practices. Two randomized trials have shown it to be superior to routine community care (generalized counseling) for reducing children’s conduct and oppositional behaviors, as well as in reducing internalizing symptoms. Further, parents who receive AF-CBT demonstrate significantly greater decreases in the use of physical discipline and in anger at post-treatment as compared to those in routine community care. AF-CBT differs from TF-CBT in that it was developed specifically for families with histories of physical abuse and that it frequently includes the caregiver who engaged in physical abuse.

Problem Sexual Behavior Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

(PSB-CBT) is an outpatient group treatment for school-aged children (and their parents) who have engaged in problematic sexual behaviors. Research has shown that families that participate in PSBCBT are less likely than the general population to reoffend.   This is extremely important not only for the kids and the families that we serve but also to the community in general because of this decreased risk.  AFCBT is appropriate for school age kids (ages 7 – 13) and their non-offending parents.  

Forensic Interviews FAQs

The forensic interview process is unique because specially trained forensic interviewers work with the multidisciplinary team to ensure children only have to tell their story one time. Learn more about forensic interviews and answers to commonly asked questions.

Medical Evaluations FAQs

The medical evaluation is a complete physical evaluation conducted by a medical provider who has been specially trained in child abuse. The medical evaluation has two purposes: to ensure the health and safety of your child and to identify any evidence of sexual or physical abuse.