Pennsylvania sees an average of 27,000 child abuse cases each year. Approximately 130 of those cases occur in Warren County. The Children’s Advocacy Center, which officially opened its doors in July of 2018, now offers those affected children a safe place to tell their stories.
Years of work and planning have gone into the creation of The Children’s Advocacy Center. District Attorney Rob Greene saw the need for such a service in the county and worked with various members of the community to bring his idea to fruition. The Community Foundation of Warren County has been involved throughout the process, providing funds for setup and initial interview training. In addition, the DeFrees Family Memorial Fund, a component of the Foundation, has pledged support for the next two years to cover costs of accreditation and further startup needs.
The children of the community benefit by having a comfortable place to go after such trauma. While they still must undergo questioning, now they will be interviewed only once in a local child-friendly environment by a non-threatening interviewer. Law enforcement officers, attorneys and representatives from area agencies watch on-screen from another room to gather the information they need without the child being aware of their presence. Previously, children may have been interviewed multiple times in police stations, at hospitals, or even in courthouses. Greene states, “The Children’s Advocacy Center
is a stand-alone organization that focuses solely on the child. The ultimate goal is that the Center be the first and only place the child will have to go – a hub of communication for the various service agencies that will help the child.”
Cameron Skelton, President of the Center’s Board of Directors, is very appreciative of the Community Foundation’s faith and support during the startup phase. “It’s very impactful that the Foundation provided the money for the interviewer training. That’s the main point of the Children’s Advocacy Center, and we couldn’t exist without it.” The Community Foundation continues to support the Children’s Advocacy Center and accept donations toward this cause. While the hope is that more awareness of child abuse locally will lead to better prevention, the reality is that many children of Warren County will need the help of the Center.