As Rob shared in the video, we are more excited about how the new ZOE Child Rescue Centre can be used by ZOE to help us better care for children than we are by the construction. We have been asked by some people, what is the purpose of the CRC? Is it needed? Is it worth the significant investment? What happens if you build this and then you only help a handful of kids?
We have no problem defending ZOE’s belief that we will do whatever it takes to find and rescue these children. They are worth it! So, at ZOE we are creating the right tools to be able to help the ‘good guys’ win!
First-hand-witness accounts for the harsh reality that, none of our team is a ‘hero’ to a child once they are rescued; and the notion of a child running into our arms with tears rolling down their cheeks is just not the reality we face. These children are broken, angry and initially they add all of us to the list of people they hate with a passion. The bigger problem however, is the problem of trust. After years of being lied to and being mistreated, they basically trust no-one. So, if an opportunity presents itself to them they will run; and if that happened … where would they go? Most likely, somewhere familiar to them, which would lead them straight back to the ‘bad guys’.
Our task is to help the police and the social welfare team to remove them from danger, and try and keep them safe. As we seek to achieve these things, we know that with every minute that passes, here in front of us is a child who is broken, hurting and is desperate for someone to love them.
Given the state of the children when they come to ZOE, we know that we need to provide for them a unique place. We need time to build trust with the children, and we need an environment that is safe and friendly. We need somewhere where the ‘good guys’ who will be helping the child, are able to come and meet with them.
That place is the new Child Rescue Centre…
ZOE’s Child Rescue Centre will serve as a specialised site where representatives from law enforcement, government, and NGO’s work together to identify and serve victims of child trafficking. Team members from a wide range of services will collaborate to do the following:
- provide sensitive, victim-centred care
- address the children’s immediate needs
- assess for evidence of child trafficking
- reduce the need for children to retell the details of their abuse
This phase of care will focus on the following:
- Child-friendly Environment: The Child Rescue Centre (CRC) environment will be comfortable and non-threatening. It will include rest areas, a kitchen, a first-aid room, a forensic interview room, an observation bay, a meeting room, workspace, a private waiting area, a guest room and bathroom for overnight stays for representatives of partner agencies; and a spacious, secure outside area for exercise or relaxation.
- Immediate Needs: When a child is brought to the CRC, the first course of action will be the assessment and provision of that child’s immediate needs (e.g. food, shower, hygiene items, and clothing). Basic first-aid services and crisis mental health care will also be provided onsite as needed. The CRC will also have a free store for the child to pick out clothes, under garments, shoes, and hygiene products of their own choosing and liking.
- Initial Interview: After the child’s immediate needs have been met – and when the child is ready – a preliminary interview will be conducted. The interview will help to identify the child’s short-term needs. It will also provide team members the opportunity to begin identifying and documenting evidence of human trafficking and other abuses. Interviews will be conducted in a child-friendly environment by trained childcare staff, forensic interviewers and law enforcement officials as appropriate to each child’s circumstance. Multidisciplinary team members will observe the interviews from a discreet observation bay, reducing the need for children to retell painful details of their victimisation.
- Proven Model: The model we have based our CRC on has been used internationally for many years to identify and assist victims of child abuse. This collaborative service model has proven to be highly effective in two key areas: higher levels of child satisfaction and dramatic increases in prosecution rates.
- Emergency Shelter and Safe House: The CRC will serve as an emergency shelter and safe house where children will receive refuge and trauma-informed services for as long as necessary. Thus, services can be provided to children in a seamless manner at one location.