If you suspect abuse, please call 855-503-7233. For emergencies, dial 911.

Amani Child Abuse Assessment Center for Columbia County

May 2024 Newsletter

From the Assessment Program Manager's Desk:

Hello from the desk of the Assessment Program Manager. To start…let me introduce myself. My name is Kimmy Dutton and I have been with the Amani Center since November of 2021. I started as the Intake Coordinator and still frequently help complete intakes which includes receiving referrals, speaking to families, and scheduling assessments. As a small non-profit organization, many of us are cross-trained in different positions so that when a team member is out, we still have coverage for each position.

In the last few years, our services have increased with the hiring of a full-time medical provider who is able to provide clinical care for children, often same day and usually within 24-48 hours of receiving referrals. As the need for and access to services grew, our staff were increasingly being asked to step into their “back-up” positions. With this growth, we found the number of children we were serving was too high of a caseload for one staff member to carry and we needed to be able to continue providing comprehensive services for each child.

I am excited to announce that we have brought on three new staff members to help our current team of seven part-time and full-time direct service staff members. We have hired a full-time Intake Coordinator, full-time Victim Advocate, and part-time Forensic Interviewer. The hiring of these three staff members will mean that most of our team will be able to focus on their core positions and provide intentional and robust services for the children and families that we serve.

Our direct service team is now comprised of myself (as the Assessment Program Manager), a full-time Medical Provider and two part-time Medical Providers, three part-time Forensic Interviewers, a Lead Victim Advocate, a full-time Victim Advocate, a full-time Intake Coordinator, and a full-time Custodian of Medical Records. This team is poised to serve our current load of referrals, as well as meet the growing capacity we are seeing on a more regular basis. We want to thank the Columbia Pacific CCO, Oregon Community Foundation, Weyerhaeuser, and Ford Family Foundation in supporting our organization to expand and meet the needs of children and families in our community.

– Kimmy Dutton, Assessment Program Manager

What's New?

As we highlight Mental Health Awareness Month this May, we’d like to update you on our efforts to launch an internal Mental Health Program.

While mental health services exist in Columbia County, there are not enough, providers fill up quickly and very few provide trauma focused interventions. It can be difficult for children who have experienced trauma to receive treatment to address their unique needs. We are thrilled to receive funding from CPCCO to launch the program.

Long- time Amani Employee Brandy Hayes will be leading the program and is recruiting for therapists and program staff in the final stages of launching the program. The Amani Center’s internal mental health program will offer therapy services based in Trauma Informed Therapy practices including Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Parent Child Interactive Therapy (PCIT), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Professionals will be trained to work specifically with children, as well as caregivers of victims of child maltreatment, providing one- on-one counseling and peer support group opportunities.

An additional benefit to working with internal therapists is that they will be part of the assessment process, helping families decide about mental health needs (frequency, type, and how soon therapy should begin) right from the start. By meeting children and families during the assessment, this provides an opportunity to begin developing a relationship with the child, thereby reducing stress and the need for a child to share their experience of abuse repeatedly. If Amani Center therapy services aren’t the right service, our therapists and victim advocates will be able to help with a referral to an appropriate provider, based on the child and family’s needs.

Here is a great article that further explains trauma informed therapy and the techniques utilized to provide it: Trauma Informed Therapy Explained.

May Spotlight:

This May, we draw our attention to National Mental Health Awareness Month, and the resources available to anyone seeking support for their mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares that 1 in 6 youth (6-17 years old) experience mental illness. As we continue working to expand our services to include on-site mental health therapy to support children affected by child abuse, we want to spread the word on the local and national services that are currently available.

Columbia Community Mental Health not only supports children who have received services at the Amani Center, they also offer a walk-in clinic, addiction services, youth and family counseling, and support for several mental health concerns. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, anger management, grief, problem gambling, family dynamics, life transitions, substance abuse or an additional concern, call their Crisis Line at (503) 782-4499.

Nationally, Mental Health America’s 988 Crisis Line is available by text or phone call for support during a mental health crisis. The 988 number has trained staff to answer calls from individuals at risk for suicide as well as those experiencing other mental health and substance use-related emergencies. Specialized services are available for veterans, LGBTQ+ individuals, and other groups.

Upcoming Events:

May 18th – NAMI Walk & CCMH Mental Health Fair

The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ annual “NAMI Walks” fundraiser is just around the corner. The Columbia County team is forming now for their walk on Saturday, May 18th at 10:00 a.m. at McCormick Park in St. Helens.

To participate in the walk, use this link to register with the Columbia County “Legacy Devers Dynamos” team. This event is co-hosted by Columbia Community Mental Health, with their Mental Health Fair taking place from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the park.