Child Witness Support Program
Launched in January of 2004, the Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program provides trauma-focused support services to children and adolescents exposed to violent crime in the Bronx. The participants in the program are young people, ages 3-15 years, who have been a witness to or victim of physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, homicide, or community violence. The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program aims to promote the healthy development of children and adolescents by assisting them in overcoming the negative impact of their traumatic experiences, and by enhancing the criminal justice system’s ability to respond to their mental health needs. The program provides young crime victims with trauma-focused evidence-based therapies, emotional support during participation in the judicial process, crisis intervention and referrals to specialized mental health providers in their community.
How It Works
On-site trauma-focused therapies: Exposure to a violent crime can have a devastating impact on the physical, behavioral, cognitive, and emotional functioning of a young person. The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program provides trauma-focused evidence-based therapies including, Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress (SPARCS).
Support during the judicial process: The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program provides emotional support to a young person through the investigative, pre-trial, trial, and post-trial phases of the criminal prosecution. Each phase of the legal process can lead to mental distress for the young crime victim; this is particularly true if he or she is called upon to testify, or if a legal decision is perceived by the youth as unjust. The program therapists assist young crime victims to cope with these difficult legal consequences of victimization.
Crisis Intervention: The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program provides on-site crisis intevention, including risk assessment and safety planning, immediately following a violent crime experience or disclosure of abuse.
Referrals: The Child and Adolescent Witness Support Program links children, adolescents, and their families to specialized treatment agencies in their communities. Receiving services from providers that specialize in treatment needs such as substance abuse, lesbian and gay issues, teen pregnancy, or psychiatric disorders, often make a significant difference in a young person’s ability to overcome a traumatic crime.
The Center for Court Innovation is grateful for space provided by the District Attorney’s Office of Bronx County.