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Justice, Duty, Honor

Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center at the Center for the Family

scflogononameThe Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office, together with the Center for the Family, The Saratoga County Partnership for Safe Children and Saratoga Hospital were instrumental in creating the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center.  Thanks to an incredibly generous contribution from the Newell family, to honor Diana Newell’s mother, Harriet M. West, the Center was established.  Designed exclusively to assist child victims of abuse and their families from discovery through treatment, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) provides a central, child-friendly location for the investigation and treatment of child sexual and physical abuse.

helpinghandsMembers of the Saratoga County Partnership for Safe Children work together in this one facility to interview, examine, and counsel abused children while pursuing offender prosecutions.

This coordinated approach reduces the number of child victim interviews, enables prompt and ongoing services, empowers non-offending parental protection and support of the abused child throughout the intervention process, and provides more efficient mental health and medical services. The CAC benefits investigation and prosecution through improved response time, coordination, and information sharing.

 

Victim Advocacy

Important to The Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center is the position of Child Crime Victim Advocate. This position plays an integral role in assisting children who are crime victims in dealing with the legal and law enforcement systems.

The child crime advocate maintains coordination with the team. The advocate’s role is to respond to the immediate needs of child crime victims of sexual and physical abuse, so that the severity of the psychological trauma is reduced. Another major role is to assist the child victim in participating in the criminal justice process and help restore the child victim’s sense of dignity, self-esteem, and coping mechanisms.

 

Medical Program of the Child Advocacy Center

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The CAC began its Medical Program in 2004. Pediatric Forensic Medical Exams of child abuse victims in Saratoga County are performed at the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center (CAC).  The coordinated members include protective services, law enforcement, medical and mental health services, victim services, and prosecution.  Previously, exams were done exclusively at the Emergency Room of the Saratoga Springs Hospital. There, the abused child was often required to visit several different areas of the hospital and several different professionals before being examined. The child endured a lengthy waiting process.

The CAC was awarded a grant from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to help fund the addition of the on-site medical component; specifically, to provide for:

  • Pediatric Forensic Medical Exams to be conducted on site at the CAC, as well as some of the equipment necessary for these exams.
  • Co-location of the Medical Team.
  • Establishment of roles/relationships of personnel/partner agencies, and establishment of policies and procedures for each regarding the medical component.
  • Training on the investigative process for all examiners and participants in child sexual abuse investigations.
  • Establishment of a data collection system to track every exam conducted on-site.

 

Project Goals

  • November2006001To conduct child sexual/physical abuse Pediatric Forensic Medical Exams in a safe and secure environment.
  • To decrease the amount of time a child who has allegedly been sexually abused must wait to receive child-friendly forensic exams by qualified professionals.
  • To protect the abused child from further trauma caused by multiple contacts with different professionals.
  • To effectively collect and store forensic evidence to ensure its integrity.
  • To co-locate the Medical Team at the CAC to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the entire process.
  • To provide child abuse victims and their families with the formal, comprehensive coordinated response to child abuse that meets the needs of child victims and their families at a single, and child-focused facility.

house For assistance or further information, you may contact the Child Advocacy Center:

Loretta A. Somerville, PhD
Director of The CAC and The Saratoga County Partnership
369 Ballston Avenue
Saratoga Springs, NY  12866
(518)  587-8008 x 315

Copyright © 2004 Saratoga Center for the Family. All rights reserved.

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