Our Mission

Safe Harbor reduces trauma and promotes healing for children and adults with intellectual disabilities who are victims of or witnesses to crime.  To accomplish our mission, Safe Harbor provides a trauma-informed, safe, child-friendly environment for best practice forensic interviews;immediate and ongoing advocacy for affected children and families;coordination and support of multi-disciplinary investigations and responses.

Child Advocacy Centers
The Child Advocacy Center is a national model which brings the system to the child and brings agency professionals together to work in a collaborative approach, rather than having the child taken from agency to agency throughout the law enforcement and child protection systems. This saves the child from having to endure multiple interviews not only by law enforcement and child protection workers, but also potentially by medical professionals, a counselor, and a prosecuting attorney. 

Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center is a fully accredited member of the National Children's Alliance (NCA). NCA's purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive and compassionate services to victims of child abuse. To learn about child advocacy centers on a national scale, visit the NCA website: www.nationalchildrensalliance.org

What We Do
Forensic Interviews in a Child-Friendly Environment
Safe Harbor provides a safe and friendly place for a child to talk about what has happened to them. Safe Harbor forensic interviewers are highly trained in best practice interviewing methods and understand child development. The forensic interview is video-recorded, so that the statement can be used in court. Unfortunately, children are still required to testify. However, the recording can reduce the amount of testifying time and the child's own words that are shown in the video have enormous impact on judges and juries.

Family Advocacy
Safe Harbor provides family advocacy services to non-offending caregivers of children who are interviewed at Safe Harbor. Our Family Advocates provide support, crisis intervention, and referrals to resources for caregivers both at the time of the interview and on an ongoing basis. Safe Harbor Family Advocates focus on the caregiver, addressing questions, needs, fears, and concerns. In addition, Family Advocates address the needs of the victimized child with the caregiver, exploring the effects of trauma on children.

Child Life and Teen Advocacy
A Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) warmly greets each child, spends time with the child to answer questions and helps put the child at ease during their visit to Safe Harbor.  After the forensic interview, the CCLS provides child-directed play, creating a trauma-informed environment to help maximize coping.  By providing children with developmentally-appropriate information, therapeutic play opportunities, and activities and interventions that promote self-expression and enhance effective coping, children can gain a sense of control over their experiences and build resiliency.

Safe Harbor has begun a pilot Teen Advocacy program as a response to feedback from teens who had attended Safe Harbor. This program provides mental health support to teens immediately after their forensic interview. This intervention helps teens process what they've been through and regain their inner solidity, often through dramatic arts or other non-verbal interventions.

Multi-Disciplinary Team
Safe Harbor works with agency partners to ensure that complex child maltreatment cases benefit from maximum possible coordination among systems. Safe Harbor coordinates meetings of multi-disciplinary supervisors, drug endangered children protocol meetings, and coordination of individual cases, whether a forensic interview occurs or the team meets for a case staffing. The multi-disciplinary team includes  Dane County Human Services, Dane County District Attorney's Office, Madison Police Department, Dane County Sheriff's Office, other local law enforcement agencies, as well as medical and mental health providers. Children who attend a Safe Harbor forensic interview often require a forensic medical exam. Safe Harbor partners with Meriter's Forensic Nurse Examiners and the American Family Children's Hospital Child Protection Program for these services.

Mental Health
Safe Harbor's Safe Step Program provides direct linkage and funding for trauma-focused mental health assessments as well as crisis counseling for child abuse victims and their caregivers. These services are expedited, without barriers and geared specifically for traumatized children. The Safe Step Program starts the recovery process for families. Safe Step is our partnership with these providers:
Canopy Center, Dawn Brubakken LCSW, S.C., Family Service Madison, Jennifer Wilgocki, MS, S.C., LCSW, Journey Mental Health, and The Rainbow Project.

2018-2019 Board of Directors List
2017 Annual Report

News Articles about Safe Harbor 
For the Record Episode on Channel 3000
Madison Magazine TV Show April 2014
Q&A: Child abuse 'can happen to anybody, even in our city'
Center provides safe place to interview abused children
Finding Safety: How Safe Harbor helped Alex confront her history of sexual abuse