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Sanford Health Dakota Children's Advocacy Center:


Basic information for families

What happens at the Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC)?

The DCAC is a child-friendly setting that coordinates services for children who may have been abused. The process involves a team of professionals from several agencies including law enforcement, social services, prosecution, mental health, medical and advocacy. Your child may come to the advocacy center for a forensic interview, medical exam and/or counseling. Our goals are to:
  • Do the best job possible in finding out what happened
  • Work in cooperation with other services to help the child
  • Make the process as comfortable as possible
  • Help the family begin to heal

What do I tell my child?

It is OK to tell your child why they are coming to the center. You might say, “We are going to a place where kids go to talk. The person you will be seeing talks to lots of kids about what has happened to them. They need to know everything you remember so we can make sure you are safe and okay. It is important that you tell the truth, you are not in any kind of trouble.”

Who will my child talk to?

Your child will talk to a forensic interviewer. The interviewer is specially trained in talking with children about difficult subjects. Questions are asked in a non-threatening and non-leading manner. The interviewer moves at a pace that is comfortable with your child and never forces a child to talk to them.

Can I watch the interview?

No, only those who are directly involved in the investigation are allowed to observe the interview. This is done to reduce the possible stress that can be placed on a child and to provide a neutral setting for the child and the investigation. Before and after the interview, you will have an opportunity to meet with the team and discuss any questions or concerns you may have. During your child’s interview you will have an opportunity to meet with a family advocate. The advocate focuses on your needs and the needs of your child. They can offer support, make referrals and help answer questions you might have.

What if my child needs an exam?

Your child may receive a medical examination if necessary. The exam has two purposes—to ensure the health and safety of your child and to identify any evidence of child abuse.

The exam is non-invasive and should not hurt the child. It is done by a medical professional who has been specially trained to examine children who may have been abused. An important advantage of the medical examination is that it allows the medical professional to ensure the child his/her body is OK. You may be present during the exam.

Is counseling available for my child?

Yes. It is important to give your child an opportunity to talk with a professional. Children have different needs that should be addressed by a specially trained therapist. Mental health therapists can apply their special training, knowledge and experience to help ensure that your child recovers as quickly as possible. Family counseling is also a valuable tool in the road to recovery. Allowing your child to talk to a professional child therapist is a positive step toward healing. Counseling is available at the Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center or a staff member can help you locate a therapist in your area.

What do I need to bring?

The Sanford Health Dakota Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) is located at the intersection of Main Avenue and Second Street (see map for details). When you arrive at the DCAC you will register and be asked for:
  • Insurance information
  • Your child’s Social Security number

This information is for billing purposes only. You will not receive a bill for services received at the center. Reimbursement for services is accessed through: third-party payers, grants, crime victim compensation funds and donations.

What if I'm coming from far away?

Because families sometimes come from far away, an overnight stay is available at the Ronald McDonald House, 609 N. Seventh St., Bismarck. Families are asked to pay $20 per room per night if they're financially able. Payments can be made weekly or at checkout. Rooms are available on first-come, first-served basis.

Check-in is from 9 a.m.—8 p.m. and check-out is from 9 a.m.—3 p.m. To be eligible, families must:

  • Have a hospital or clinic referral
  • Have a patient who is:
    • 18 or younger
    • 19 to 22 years old if financially eligible
    • An adult having a high-risk pregnancy
  • Live more than 30 miles from Bismarck
  • Have at least one registered guest who is 18 years of age or older

To contact the Ronald McDonald House, call (701) 258-8551.

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