What We Do
The TEDI BEAR Children’s Advocacy is the largest children’s advocacy center in North Carolina and is accredited to provide a full spectrum of assessment, treatment, education, and prevention to for children up to 18 years old who may have been victims of child abuse or neglect.
TEDI BEAR is one of hundreds of children’s advocacy centers throughout the United States. Children’s advocacy centers not only provide medical evaluation and care for children, but help to facilitate cooperation between the other healthcare, legal, social service, law enforcement, and mental health services that children need when they have been abused or neglected.
Founded in 1992, TEDI BEAR is a subspecialty clinic within the Department of Pediatrics, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University. The Brody School of Medicine, together with ECU Health Medical Center, supports TEDI BEAR CAC, with assistance from major grant funding by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission, the ECU Health Foundation, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the National Children’s Alliance. Also, donations from civic organizations, including Women for Women, and individual benefactors provide critical support for TEDI BEAR.
TEDI BEAR’s staff – which consists of pediatricians, physician extenders, social workers, child life specialists, therapists, community educators, a multi-disciplinary team coordinator, and office support staff – provides comprehensive, coordinated child-centered services, education and outreach in order to ensure child safety.
The center provides a safe and friendly environment to help children, up to 18 years old, heal from the trauma that typically accompanies abuse or neglect. TEDI BEAR also provides assistance to the parents or other caregivers of abused children, if the caregivers have not committed or contributed to the child’s abuse. Alleged offenders are not permitted on premises.
Each year, TEDI BEAR cares for more than 600 children from 29 counties in eastern North Carolina.
Mental health services at child advocacy centers are provided by specially trained professionals who understand the psychological trauma that affects many abused and neglected children. This is often one of the most serious effects of abuse and neglect. TEDI BEAR’s therapists primarily use Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (PDF), which has been shown to be effective in helping abused children to heal.
Services for Children and Families at Our Center
When children and caregivers are referred to TEDI BEAR following alleged abuse, the child typically receives child advocacy services, a forensic interview, and a medical examination. Many children and their family members also receive family advocacy services and therapy at TEDI BEAR. These services are described below and you may follow the links for a more in-depth description.
The child and his or her caregiver first meet with a trained Child Life Advocate who will describe the assessment process, answer any questions, and help to ensure that the child’s needs are met. At first, many children and caregivers are nervous about going through the assessment process. The Child Life Advocate helps them to feel more relaxed, confident, and supported.
The Family Advocate primarily works with caregivers after the completion of TEDI BEAR Child Medical Evaluations and hospital consults. The FA provides support and information to caregivers by phone and necessary assistance to ensure family members are able to access recommended and available interventions to link families to concrete services.
In most cases, the child is interviewed to learn more about the alleged abuse. This interview is conducted by a TEDI BEAR staff member with special training in how children of different ages think, feel, and communicate. It is recorded on video so that the child will not have to repeat this painful information more than necessary during the investigation process. With the child’s and caregiver’s consent, the interview may also be observed over closed-circuit television by law enforcement and other appropriate professionals. The child’s caregiver is interviewed separately. The interview may also be used to help with the child’s medical evaluation.
A medical examination identifies any signs of physical trauma, ensures that any lab work or other tests are performed, and evaluates the child’s overall health. This exam is conducted by a pediatrician or a pediatric nurse practitioner with special training in child abuse evaluation.
Many children and their non-offending caregivers benefit from therapy to heal from childhood trauma. TEDI BEAR has therapists whose special training in child abuse allows them to help victims and family members to resolve the trauma and move forward in their recovery.
Services for Professionals and Communities
Much of TEDI BEAR’s work focuses on training others to better address child abuse. These include our colleagues in healthcare, social services, law enforcement, and other professions, as well as students, families, and other people who care about kids. TEDI BEAR also works throughout eastern North Carolina to bring training, prevention, and follow up services to communities.
Community-based multi-disciplinary teams serve children who are alleged victims of child sexual abuse throughout eastern North Carolina. This team approach facilitates collaboration among professionals from various disciplines within each community. The goal is to enhance the system’s response to child abuse, and to facilitate recovery for child abuse victims.
ECU Professional Education
TEDI BEAR helps train others at East Carolina University who are beginning careers in caring for children. For example, physicians who are completing their residency training in pediatrics regularly spend time at TEDI BEAR learning how to identify and treat the effects of child abuse and neglect. Similarly, students enrolled in ECU’s Child Life programs may perform their internship and practicums at TEDI BEAR. TEDI BEAR staff also provide training for ECU students enrolled in nursing, dentistry, social work, and criminal justice programs to help them better understand and prevent child abuse.
TEDI BEAR’s educators provide training in child sexual abuse recognition, response, and prevention for professionals and non-professionals at schools, churches, day care centers, mental health agencies, and many other organizations. This training uses the Stewards of Children (PDF) curriculum, and is provided at no charge. Nurses, educators, therapists, social workers, law enforcement professionals and others can use the training to help meet their continuing education requirements.
TEDI BEAR also encourages community members to take advantage of other educational opportunities, including free online training in child abuse and child trafficking.