Davie County September 2023


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

“What happens to children who experience trauma will stick with them for the rest of their lives … and we will pay for it for the rest of their lives if we don’t invest in offering the right support, now,” explained Brandi Reagan. Brandi is executive director of The Dragonfly House, which kindly opened its doors to Blue Cross NC when the Extra Miles Tour journeyed to Davie County.

The Dragonfly House Children’s Advocacy Center is one of roughly 30 Children’s Advocacy Centers in our state. The centers take an integrated approach to serving children wrapped up in the legal system because of allegations of abuse or neglect. The work of ensuring that the child’s well-being and justice both get served always involves many different institutions: Medical teams, law enforcement, district attorneys’ offices and more. The bureaucracy is necessary to achieve the best outcomes. At the same time, the complex investigation process can alienate the very children it’s intended to serve. Most kids will grow quiet when one stranger after another asks them to talk about traumatic events. Stories can change as children become fatigued, and this can make it difficult to prosecute perpetrators. Traveling from one office to the next can take kids out of classrooms and away from schoolwork.

Brandi explained that child advocacy centers consolidate those steps so they unfold in one place. They also provide resources and support. The goal is to help children overcome adverse circumstances, not to add to the trauma they have already experienced.

The Dragonfly House is relatively unique in the scope of services it offers. We learned about the multi-disciplinary team of experts in medicine, forensics, community outreach, social services, mental health, victim advocacy, translation and other areas that all come together under one roof to help children and families heal in a comprehensive, seamless way.

Aubrey Draughn, Davie County Schools’ lead social worker, talked about the important work the organization does beyond the confines of the House. Community engagement aimed at reducing child abuse (and its impact) is integral to The Dragonfly House’s mission. As in many communities across the country, children and youth in Davie County now face significant mental health challenges, and many have encountered adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Currently, 46 children are in the foster care system; 122 are classified as homeless. Recently, Aubrey has been working with The Dragonfly House to create trauma-informed schools, so that faculty and staff understand how to better serve those students who have experienced ACEs.

Sheriff J.D. Hartman sat by Brandi’s side and chimed in throughout her presentation, underscoring how The Dragonfly House depends on a “whole-community approach” to problem-solving. Social services, law enforcement and community-based organizations have all collaborated to lift The Dragonfly House off the ground and make it a success.

Sheriff Hartman illustrated how the need for this work has only grown more significant in recent years: When the House first opened, they anticipated serving around 25 children for the year … by the time 12 months had passed, they’d helped more than 200. The team now works on an average of 400 cases per year. These statistics from fiscal year 2021-22 illustrate the impact of this commitment:

  • 79% of cases involving social services were considered of valid concern
  • 89% of the legal cases it supported resulted in either a guilty verdict or guilty plea
  • 99.39% of caregivers report that the advocacy center facilitated healing

After providing lunch and a thorough overview of The Dragonfly House’s story, Brandi took the team on a tour of the facilities, which include various therapy rooms (each with different age-appropriate décor), two forensic interview rooms, an observation room and more. Several members of the Blue Cross NC team were intrigued by the special photographic equipment in the medical examination room that allows doctors to look for and document signs of abuse in a non-invasive way. Others were fascinated by the beautiful and inspiring artwork, much of it created by local high school students.

Where did the name “Dragonfly House” come from? The team knew they wanted a name that wasn’t institutional. They wanted something that welcomed children in and captured the organization’s goal. When Brandi learned that, in Japanese folktales, the dragonfly is a symbol of hope – of emerging from darkness and death into a new, brighter world – she knew she’d found the right name.

“Children who are abused are in darkness. We’re here to provide light and help them find wings,” she said.

All other trade names are the property of their respective owners.

U39702, 10/23