While sitting as a judge in Juvenile Court, I was able to observe C.A.U.S.E.S. providing the most expert services to children and their families.
– The Honorable Gary L. Brownfield, Circuit Court of Cook County
Programs and Services
C.A.U.S.E.S. provides expert clinical services, with emphasis on specialized treatment, evaluation and testing, research, and training.
We currently work with approximately 400 therapy clients per year. Under our proposed expansion, our annual census would increase over two years to about 700 clients in roughly 350 families. Sex offender and psychological evaluations would double, and professional training and research programs would also grow.
Treating Victims of Abuse
Partially funded by a contract from D.C.F.S., C.A.U.S.E.S.’ Victim Treatment Program assesses and treats child victims of sexual and physical abuse. C.A.U.S.E.S. is the largest program in Illinois focused exclusively on mental health services for complex cases of violence against children. We provide whatever clinical care is needed, placing no pre-established time constraints or other limitations on therapy, and working closely with the child protection system to integrate clinical intervention with DCFS casework and legal proceedings. Our services do not stop until everyone involved in a case is assured that a victimized child is safe from further abuse and living in a setting that promotes healthy development. C.A.U.S.E.S. clinicians employ psychodynamic individual and play therapies, cognitively based intervention, group therapy, marital counseling, family therapy, and other approaches as appropriate for each case.
Treating Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems
Often youngsters who have been abused or who live in homes where abuse is an issue act out sexually themselves. Our Outpatient Treatment Program for Children and Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems, started in May 1999, has already established itself as the leading state-certified program for this population in Cook County, serving 85 families and more than 120 clients at one time.
This treatment is geared toward monitoring and reducing risk for future incidents. Individual therapy has been very successful in helping youngsters take responsibility for inappropriate sexual behavior and examine factors that place them at risk for future offenses. We also integrate group treatment into our overall approach.
Transporting Children and Families to Therapy
Transportation services are integral to both programs and serve a therapeutic as well as logistical function. Case aides build relationships with youngsters and ensure children’s safety on trips to and from therapy. C.A.U.S.E.S. is the only mental health agency to provide this service.
Advocating with the Courts
Courtroom advocacy is probably the most unusual aspect of our work. Our detailed written progress reports are widely respected and used by Juvenile Court personnel, and C.A.U.S.E.S. staff testify as expert witnesses in almost 500 courtroom hearings each year. In this way, written information can be clarified, and all parties to a complex case have the opportunity to question and cross-examine C.A.U.S.E.S. staff. C.A.U.S.E.S. is the only clinical agency in the state providing integrated therapy and court advocacy services.
Continuing Therapy After Adoption
In any given year, a limited number of children seen in our psychotherapy programs are adopted while therapy is still underway. A post-adoption therapy contract with DCFS enables us to continue treatment with these children and offer help to adoptive parents, as well.
Evaluating Sexual Offenders
C.A.U.S.E.S. provides extensive psychological evaluations of alleged sexual offenders to assess the risk these adults and juveniles pose to the community. Evaluations include the use of personality tests, assessments of traits and attitudes relevant to risk for sexual offending, and screening for deviant sexual interests.
When needed, C.A.U.S.E.S. conducts psychological evaluations of clients seen in our therapy programs, and of outside clients referred by DCFS—generally to address questions important to case planning or legal decision-making. Because we take the time needed to pursue necessary background information and conduct extensive clinical interviews, recommendations in our reports are based on a thorough understanding of the referral question.
Serving Incarcerated Mothers and Their Children
For almost twenty years, C.A.U.S.E.S. has provided psychotherapy to women in Dwight Correctional Center who have been incarcerated for a crime involving a child. Many of these women are serving sentences that will end before the children they left behind will come of age. In the absence of psychotherapy, these mothers pose a potential threat to their children’s welfare; it is shocking to realize how many women locked up for violent crimes were themselves sexually assaulted as children and never received help. We currently see about fifty incarcerated women per month, with the goal of helping them to understand and not repeat the behaviors that led to their incarceration.
C.A.U.S.E.S. does outstanding work with an especially vulnerable population of children. In a field riddled with mediocrity, their staff stands out as including some of the most careful, thoughtful, and sensitive professionals in the field of child welfare. If my child needed help, I would accept nothing less than their high standards of excellence.
– Bruce A. Boyer, Esq., Clinical Professor and Director of the Loyola Child Law Clinic