Every day that Bossier sheriff’s Detective Debra McKay walks into her office, she hopes there isn’t a new case of abuse to investigate.
McKay has been working child abuse cases, physical and sexual, in Bossier Parish since 2007.
She works with a team of specialists to bring justice to abuse victims.
"Part of the team includes child protection, law enforcement, the Gingerbread House and Cara Center,” said McKay.
“So the report may begin in child protection, they'll contact us. We take the child to Gingerbread House for a forensic interview. And then they go to the Cara Center, where they'll be examined by a doctor that's an expert in that field."
Experts at the Cara Center provide physical examinations and screenings through innovative technology to look for physical or sexual abuse that might go undetected.
"Without the physical exam, a lot of it is just ‘He said, she said’ type of things. And we just need physical evidence when there's cases that do go to court," said Angel Rogers, community clinics coordinator for the Cara Center.
Even with the Cara Center’s extreme efforts to make the children feel comfortable, it still can be a scary place.
Donations through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals help provide comfort.
Through your contributions, the center can get stuffed animals, clothes, diapers and toys for the hundreds of children who come through its doors.
All while detectives like McKay utilize the center’s findings to put a stop to abusers.
"They do important work. They help law enforcement. They testify in court for us. They're instrumental in a lot of the prosecution of child abusers. They just clinch our case."
One foster mom saw firsthand how much of a difference the Cara Center can make.
The mom, whose identity we concealed because of an ongoing abuse investigation, said she had a foster child who died shortly after coming into her home. That child did not go to the Cara Center for evaluation.
The mom said an evaluation could have saved the child’s life.
"A lot of times, you'll have an injury to a child. It's hard to determine where and how that injury occurred,” McKay said.
“These doctors are specialists; so they're able to put their expertise to work and help us with identifying exactly what type of injury that is."
Oftentimes, those exams can be a key part of closing a case.
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