Child Advocacy Center Planned To Assist Victims Of Abuse
ASHEVILLE, NC – More than a dozen officials came together Tuesday to commit to opening a Child Advocacy Center in Buncombe County. From law-enforcement to representatives from social services and Mission Health, the community pledged to join forces to better support victims of child abuse and prosecute more offenders.
The new, multi-sector approach will allow officials to collect competent and credible evidence, increase convictions and create more positive outcomes for children, said Todd Williams, Buncombe County District Attorney.
“In the DA’s office our focus is to prosecute abusers of children and if we can do that more efficiently and speed the recovery of children and reduce their trauma, that’s what we’re going to do,” he added.
Before the New Year, local nonprofit Child Abuse Prevention Services plans join staff at Mission Children’s Hospital Reuter Outpatient Center to form the Child Advocacy Center. The project, which is integrated into plans to open a Family Justice Center downtown, will quadruple Child Abuse Prevention Services budget to more than $1 million.
“It’s really us doing business very differently, and approaching how we deal with abuse and trauma in this county differently,” said Geoff Sidoli, the new executive director of Child Abuse Prevention Services.
“Being able to know each discipline more intimately, I think will make us each more able to do our jobs.”
The collaboration among groups will keep the focus on the child, while having better outcomes in the criminal justice system and improving the sharing of information, said Dr. Cynthia Brown, a specialist in pediatric child safety at Mission Children’s Hospital.
Young children tell stories differently than adults and it requires a certain expertise to gather information and reduce trauma, she said.
With different groups working together, interviewers at the Child Advocacy Center will be able to approach victims with a cross discipline perspective, limiting the number times a child has to respond to questioning and improving the quality of evidence collected.
“Child abuse is complicated and we always want to get it right,” said Brown. “We will be working together in new and better ways and I’m so excited to be a part of this.”