On January 26th, a whole group of people from a wide variety of agencies will get together on Broad Street in Adrian, Michigan to cut the ribbon of Lenawee County’s brand new Child Advocacy Center! Many other counties have something similar, but for Lenawee County, this is a first.
Many agencies were involved in making this happen
The Advocacy Center, a program of Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties, is the result of a collaborative effort between many different agencies in the area. These include:
- The Lenawee County Prosecutor’s Office,
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Protective Services,
- Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority,
- All the different law enforcement agencies in Lenawee County,
- The U of M Child Protection Team, and
- Catholic Charities.
Child abuse is a growing problem in Lenawee County
In an interview with the Daily Telegram, the executive director for Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties, Sue Lewis, shared why this is so important. “I think the community needs to be aware these issues exist and why this center is needed.” Lewis said. Many people turn a blind eye to child abuse in their own communities
Child victims needs a safe space to share their stories
Another point Lewis made was that children who had to retell the events of their abuse over and over to different people in different places were having to relive their abuse with each retelling. “Practices in the past indicated that these vulnerable children were bring retraumatized every time they had to tell their story to a different person. ” she explained.
Which is where the Child Advocacy Center comes in.
Providing a safe space, with trained personnel should help to reduce the trauma that child victims experience. By having specially trained personnel conduct one single forensic interview, the child won’t have to meet with multiple different people to explain what they experienced. The forensic interview can be watched and used as evidence by different people involved in the case at different times.
The center will also offer treatments for traumatized children. Trained counsellors will provide crisis counseling for both the children and their non-offending caregivers. Also, if certain services are needed but aren’t provided by the center guide them to ongoing services they may need.
Why would child abuse defense attorneys be pleased about this?
We’re child abuse defense attorneys, yes, but we’re also parents who know the facts. The fact is that there are many people who are falsely accused of child abuse, but there are also many children who are abused. As parents and people who care about the well being of children, we recognize the value of an independent location that provides a safe place for children to receive the help and treatment they need.