COLUMBIA — Rainbow House is an emergency shelter and Child Advocacy Center (CAC) located in Columbia that serves 11 counties in Missouri.
CACs connect children and their families with mental health, medical, and many more resources after situations of child abuse.
When a child goes through physical or sexual abuse, that child often has to speak to multiple people about the incident. It can add more pain and trauma to what they have already experienced.
But Brenda Porter, the CAC Program director at Rainbow House said, the staff at Rainbow House can shorten the process.
"Everyone comes to the rainbow house when a child is interviewed, the child actually only talks to one person however the team is in an observation room and they can watch live."
Porter said this kind of forensic interviewing not only improves the experience for the child but for officials investigating the case as well.
"If a detective interviews that child as opposed to the child coming here, it does put more weight on that detective as far as going to court and everything. When the kids come here we go do that."
About a year ago they added a new member to their team, Sir Winston Furchill, a poodle puppy in training to become a therapy dog. And although interviewers at Rainbow House are expertly trained in their field, Winston offers something they can't.
Porter said he has a special intuition about the children that come into Rainbow House.
Checking in with Winston about a year after we first met him and he's clearly a very important part of the team. He sits with kids and provides important emotional support as they go in for their forensic interviews.
Rainbow House also provides therapy and advocacy throughout the interviewing process. Porter said they've recently seen an uptick in referrals because their services benefit the child, the family, and the team working on the case.
"These cases where a child has experienced abuse are very difficult cases. And they're difficult even for the most seasoned detectives. These cases can be more emotionally charged."