The Children’s Advocacy Clinic is a mental health assessment and referral clinic for children and parents involved in domestic violence that operates in conjunction with all Children’s Advocacy Rooms. Referrals are made to the Children’s Advocacy Clinic from all eight of the court’s Children’s Advocacy Rooms.
The Clinic offers a voluntary mental health triage system that screens children and parents for the effects of domestic violence trauma. Clinic clients are given referrals to appropriate agencies to address identified mental health needs, as well as other needs including housing, employment training and childcare. Clients also receive assistance in setting up appointments at referral agencies. The Clinic's services include an educational component to help children process the violence they have experienced in the home and understand courtroom proceedings.
The Children’s Advocacy Clinic is staffed by a master’s level therapist. The therapist meets with the parent and each of the children to discuss the violence they have experienced or witnessed and how it has affected their emotional state and daily lives. Based on the needs identified, the therapist provides referrals to appropriate mental health service providers for on-going assistance. The therapist also addresses immediate clinical crisis issues.
Additionally, the therapist meets with the parent/adult client to discuss housing, shelter, employment, and childcare. After identifying the areas of need, the therapist works with the parent/adult client to contact and make appointments with the appropriate service agencies. The Children’s Advocacy Clinic informs clients of their legal rights under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act and refers them to legal advocacy agencies. An interpreter in any language is provided to clients upon request.
The Children’s Advocacy Clinic was created through a collaboration with the Institute for Juvenile Research and the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Illinois at Chicago and first opened in 1999 at the original Domestic Violence Courthouse located at 1340 South Michigan Avenue in 1999.