A note about names
A child we’ll call Kaylee attends a Susie’s Place-facilitated body safety program at school. She grows uncomfortable and checks yes for a follow-up conversation. A kind adult listens to Kaylee, asking only a couple of questions before settling her with the school counselor and calling the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline. This report of possible harm to Kaylee triggers a phone call to Susie’s Place.
A parent or caregiver drives with Kaylee 5 miles or 25 miles or 50 miles to the nearest Susie’s Place center for an interview. They open the front door to see age-appropriate toys, games, and puzzles for Kaylee to engage with while she gets comfortable in our space. Colorful characters and supportive sayings cover the walls. Kaylee is reminded that she is strong and brave.
The family is warmly greeted and offered drinks, snacks, or even a small meal if Kaylee is hungry. A friendly dog wearing a vest, and with a smiling adult at its side, does tricks for her and sits patiently while Kaylee scratches behind its ears and rubs its belly.
Eventually, Kaylee moves to a small room to talk with a highly trained child forensic interviewer. Kaylee knows that her experience told in her words is being recorded and other adults are watching and listening. She will summon all her courage to talk about a situation, one-time or ongoing, perhaps involving someone she loves, that makes her feel sad, confused, unsettled, frustrated, or angry. Kaylee is one brave child.
Meanwhile in the waiting area, a child-and-family advocate meets with Kaylee’s parents. The advocate explains the visit that day and what they might expect in the future. The parents are sad, confused, unsettled, frustrated, or angry. They feel that they have failed Kaylee and they have kept their emotions tightly in check since hearing about a visit to Susie’s Place. Now the parents can speak freely and confidentially of their pain and uncertainty and perhaps triggers of their own childhood abuse.
The advocate and parents discuss therapy for Kaylee and for the parents, a medical appointment, and how to access financial assistance as the parents have missed several days of non-salaried employment to be available to Kaylee and meet with team members.
When she is done talking, Kaylee returns to the waiting area and dives to the floor to embrace the dog who has stayed for her return. Her parents move to a small room to meet with caring and professional team members who summarize the interview and discuss next steps.
They rejoin Kaylee and soon the family walks back through the doors of Susie’s Place with a referral for therapy, a scheduled medical appointment, gas cards, a list of food pantries and their township trustee, and with a little more certainty in a time that feels daunting.
Your donation is for 1,410 children to walk through our doors and be well served this year, but it’s really for Kaylee. Michael. Susan. Benjamin. Angela. Joey….