A Program of the Rape Treatment Center
Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center
Stuart House is an internationally recognized, model program created by the Rape Treatment Center to serve the special needs of sexually abused children and their families. Stuart House is also an exemplary public/private partnership. It was designed to solve problems in the child protection system that often revictimize young victims.
Problems in the Traditional Child Protection System
In most communities, sexually abused children and their families who seek help often have to go to as many as six different agencies. At each place, the child is re-interviewed by another stranger. Many of these interviews are conducted in cold, institutional settings, such as police departments, by people who are not trained in “best practices” for child interviewing. These experiences can be intimidating and frightening to a traumatized child. Very few cases are prosecuted and many child victims never receive expert medical care, forensic examinations, or needed therapy services. As a result, many parents feel their children are further victimized by the very systems that are supposed to help them. Stuart House was created to remedy these problems.
The Stuart House SolutionAt Stuart House, children and families have a very different experience. All of the services they need are in a single location – a child-friendly facility designed to make them feel welcome and safe. Stuart House brings together specially trained personnel from the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney’s Office, the City Attorney’s Office, and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The professionals from these partner agencies are co-located at Stuart House and work as a team to investigate cases and ensure that children are not revictimized by the system. Children are interviewed by an expert child forensic interviewer who is knowledgeable about child development and the impact of trauma on children’s disclosures. The interviews are recorded for later use in court, enabling jurors to see the child’s initial disclosures. Stuart House also provides comprehensive treatment for child victims, including 24-hour emergency medical care, expert evidentiary examinations, advocacy, crisis intervention, case management services, and long-term therapy that child victims and their families need to recover from the traumatic effects of sexual abuse. Children who testify in criminal proceedings can receive Court School and court accompaniment. Stuart House provides all of these services at no charge to child victims and their families.
Stuart House has received many honors and awards, including the Governor’s Award for Victim Services, an honor given to the best programs serving crime victims in California, and a Department of Justice Award, given by the President of the United States for outstanding achievements in raising the nation’s consciousness and serving as an exemplary program demonstrating the benefits of private/public sector partnerships. Stuart House was also recognized by The Healthcare Forum as one of the outstanding innovators in healthcare services in the country.
Stuart House is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance.