Child advocacy center opens to help

October 7, 2009 3:48:14 PM PDT
It's the first of its kind, a child advocacy center in Montgomery County. It is a place where law enforcement, medical professionals, and social workers can join forces to better help child abuse victims and their families. With more than 600 investigations of child abuse in Montgomery County every year, the goal of Mission Kids is to provide a better environment for young victims and their families to heal.

The organization was founded in March of 2007. The Center will streamline the painful interview process for children who've been abused.

"Under the old system, the child used to go out to like the different spokes of wheel for the different agencies, now with Mission Kids, what happens is, all the agencies come to the child," Executive Director Abbie Newman said.

For that to happen, 52 police departments in Montgomery County agreed to change their internal policies and allow the Mission Kids Center to be the place through which all the necessary individuals would receive information about a young victim from just one interview, conducted here by experienced and trained professionals.

"Today, with the launch of Mission Kids, we transform the experience from one of trauma to one of hope," victims advocate Jacqui Neulinger said.

"By changing the structure of the system and bringing all of the disciplines together that handle child abuse cases and having them work out of a facility where we focus on making the children more comfortable, allowing them to tell what happened in a safe environment, we create a better likelihood that they will be able to get through the course system and we can have better outcomes," Montgomery County D.A. Risa Vetri Ferman said.

And a good outcome is, of course, when law enforcement officials are able to hold the perpetrator accountable for the crime.


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