Family and Child Treatment provides an array of therapeutic programs to poverty-level children and their families, including therapy for those who are victims of sexual abuse or at risk for substance abuse.
The nonprofit opened its doors in 1984 and remains one of the few organizations that provides free services to families and children in need, says executive director Heather Gibbs.
Sexual abuse statistics show that there is a growing and pervasive need for such services, Gibbs says. Nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys are victims of sexual abuse before they reach age 18; 70 percent of all recorded sexual assaults occur in children age 17 and younger; and one in five children are solicited sexually on the Internet.
“It’s really startling,” Gibbs says.
The organization, which employs 30 therapists, seeks to provide local children and their families with the tools they need for coping with a sexual trauma, Gibbs says. For those victims who have difficulty talking about their trauma, an Art and Play program provides them a way to communicate through drawing and playing, Gibbs notes.
The nonoffending parent program provides therapy and guidance to parents of children who have been sexually abused. Sometimes, children change, become withdrawn, after sexual trauma and parents don’t know how to deal with that, Gibbs says. Both the adults and children may harbor feelings of guilt, blame and low self-esteem. It’s only after they come to realize they have self-worth that children can begin to heal, Gibbs says. Sometimes, adults who were victimized as children seek therapy at Family and Child Treatment, too.
The organization also participates in court-ordered juvenile and adult sex offender programs.
“We do that to stop the cycle of abuse,” Gibbs says. “We don’t want them to re-offend.”
Donna’s House is another court-appointed program that Family and Child Treatment offers.
Therapists offer court-appointed, supervised visitation between children and their parents who have lost custody or visitation rights, Gibbs says.
Kids with substance abuse issues who are in the justice system may also be referred to the agency, where therapists offer Life Choices, an adolescent substance abuse program, Gibbs says.
According to statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics, nine out of 10 12th graders report that marijuana is easily accessible to them, Gibbs says. By eighth grade, 50 percent of kids report they’ve tried at least one drink and 20 percent of children say they’ve been drunk. On average 4,700 teens try marijuana every day.
The organization, which operates on a $1.2 million annual budget, is able to offer several programs thanks to state and federal grants, individual donations and fundraisers, Gibbs says.
For more information about FACT, call 258-5855.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-4564.