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Valley Children's Advocacy Center

Staunton, VA

www.valleychildrenscenter.org

Amount Requested: $7,000 for Child Forensic Interviewing and Family Support

Mission: To strengthen our community’s response to child abuse and neglect and to investigate, assess, educate, and provide services using a multi-disciplinary approach; to work toward making our community a safe place for children to grow and thrive.

Constituents Served: Referrals to our Center are provided by Shenandoah Valley Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services Unit, or any local Law Enforcement agencies, including Staunton Police Department, Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Waynesboro Police Department, or Virginia Department of State Police. Children under the age of 18 are referred to our Center when there is an allegation, suspicion, or disclosure of any type of abuse or neglect. Our services to children and their non-offending caregivers include: forensic interviewing; multi-disciplinary team case coordination; victim advocacy services; and trauma-focused mental health counseling. VCAC also provides educational and outreach services to our community to assist in the prevention of child abuse. All of our services are provided free of charge.

During FY 15, VCAC served 182 children and their non-offending caregivers. Types of abuse included: sexual abuse, physical abuse, neglect, witness to violence, drug endangerment, and other forms which may include emotional or financial abuse. This was a 22% increase over FY 14. Of the 182 children, 34% were 0-6 years old, 36% ranged from 7-12, and 30% ranged from 13-17. Of the 182 children, 99% of the children knew their alleged perpetrator.

Program Overview: When Law Enforcement or Child Protective Services receives a report of child abuse or neglect, the child will be referred to VCAC for a Forensic Interview when appropriate. VCAC provides a warm, welcoming, neutral, child-friendly environment where the child can be interviewed by a trained Forensic Interviewer. Interviews are observed in another room by members of the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) via closed circuit television in order to reduce the stress and anxiety of the child, as well as to reduce the need for repeated interviews.

While the child is being interviewed, another staff member meets with the non-offending caregiver in order to provide psychoeducation related to child abuse prevention and response. Caregivers are provided with information regarding their role in supporting their child following a traumatic event, as well as being provided with information regarding additional resources, such as counseling and support groups. Criminal justice information is provided when appropriate. During this time, children and their non-offending caregivers are also assessed regarding their need for mental health treatment.

Research shows that 25% of females and 17% of males will experience sexual abuse before age 18. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has documented that individuals with a history of child abuse are more likely to suffer from depression, drug abuse, and heart disease. Additional research shows that when a child has been sexually assaulted and/or abused, it has a significant impact on their family as well. This is magnified if the child does not receive adequate and effective treatment. The estimated lifetime cost of nonfatal child maltreatment is $210,012 per victim. This is reflected in childhood healthcare costs, adult medical costs, productivity losses, child welfare costs, and criminal justice costs. By providing the non-offending caregiver with tools that will assist them in addressing the client’s physical, social, and emotional needs in the days, weeks, and months following their experience,  provides an imperative component to addressing the child’s overall needs.

Current Operating Budget: $158,522

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