Facility Dogs 101: when furry friends help children to tell their stories (ChildHub webinar)

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Date of webinar: 
11 Oct 2018
Start and finish time of webinar: 
4-5pm CET
Ellen O’Neill-Stephens JD, Founder, Courthouse Dogs Foundation USA
Celeste Walsen DVM, Executive Director, Courthouse Dogs Foundation USA
Molly B, Facility dog

About the webinar:

Each Barnahus and similar setup takes great care to design a positive experience for the children who visit their service. For traumatic stories to become reliable evidence, every detail matters.

 Even the furry details.  

Children are naturally drawn to animals, and child-friendly services which use facility dogs report that the comfort they provide often leads to better results for children. From bonding in the lobby to accompanying the child throughout the facility, children are less stressed and have a non-human to tell their story. The evidence gathered is of a high quality, the child has a positive memory from the visit, and the dog is happy to be a companion in exchange for long walks and plenty of treats at nighttime.


Join us on 11 October 2018 at 16:00 CEST for a webinar with Courthouse Dogs Foundation founders Ellen O’Neill-Stephens and Celeste Walsen to hear about:

  • How courthouse facility dogs help children to tell their stories
  • How to decide if a dog could be a successful addition to your service, and what the process looks like
  • What to consider to make sure both canine and human staff members are comfortable and happy.


This webinar is targeted to professionals who want to improve evidence collection and prevent trauma for child victims and witnesses of violence, including those who visit multi-disciplinary and interagency collaborations. We warmly welcome participants to ask questions and contribute their own experiences in the webinar’s chat feature. Please also feel free to send questions in advance.


About From 0 to Barnahus – the PROMISE Webinar series  

The PROMISE Webinar Series extends an open invitation to join the discussions and exchanges within the European Barnahus Movement. During PROMISE 1, select professionals from around Europe were invited to participate at the PROMISE project exchange meetings. These meetings featured lectures, trainings and discussions on the key principles, standards, and challenges to consider when opening and operating a multi-disciplinary and interagency collaboration for child victims and witnesses of violence.


In this Webinar Series, we will revisit and expand on topics covered in PROMISE 1 for a public audience. As part of this series, we aim to discuss the Barnahus concept in general, the adaptability of the concept to local realities, and the Barnahus Quality Standards – which puts forth the underlying principles, specific activities and institutional arrangements that enable child-centred and effective, collaborative actions. The Webinar Series will also dynamically respond to questions as they arise, offer scheduled chat rooms for select topics, and even share best practices and lessons learned from the activities of the PROMISE 2 Project. 

About the presenters:

Ellen O’Neill-Stephens served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Seattle, Washington for 26 years, retiring in November of 2011; she is a pioneer in the use of dogs to provide emotional support in the criminal justice system and the founder of Courthouse Dogs.  Since 2003, she has promoted the use of highly trained assistance dogs to provide comfort to children and adults who are victims or witnesses of crimes and support juveniles and adults in mental health and drug courts. Ellen’s son, Sean, and his service dog, Jeeter, were the inspiration for the Courthouse Dogs Foundation.  Ellen received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, and was a juvenile probation officer before entering law school.

Celeste Walsen works with criminal justice facilities to teach staff members the practicalities of using highly trained dogs in victim/witness support programs.  As Executive Director of Courthouse Dogs, Dr. Walsen is currently working to develop nationally recognized guidelines that will equip victim advocates, forensic interviewers, prosecuting attorneys, and other legal professionals to effectively employ dogs to provide support for vulnerable people of all ages. Dr. Walsen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California Berkeley and a DVM from Louisiana State University.

Molly B is 11 years old and her job is to help us educate legal professionals and advocates the benefits of including facility dogs like her in their work with vulnerable people. Molly intuitively knows when to approach someone and lean into the person, so she can be petted. Molly’s friends are Ellen’s pet Corgi and Sean’s service dog Elmer. Molly likes to travel with Ellen and Celeste, take naps, and frolic with her friends at a local playground. Molly was trained by Canine Companions for Independence.

How to attend the webinar:

Use the button below to sign up for the webinar. A few hours before the webinar you will receive an email with the link to the webinar room and instructions how to join. Joining our webinars is very easy, doesn't require any special skills from you and only takes a minute or two. You can join the webinar from your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

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Language(s) of the materials: 

This project is funded by: