June 25, 2019 - 1:45pm
County is the first to receive a state-funded mobile center to enhance services for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse
For Immediate Release: 6/24/2019
Executives from the New York State Office of Victim Services (OVS) and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) today toured the new mobile Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Delaware County. The county is the first in the state to receive a mobile unit, part of a $4.45 million investment by the state to improve services for children who are victims of physical or sexual abuse. Child advocacy centers bring child protective services, law enforcement, medical providers, advocacy and therapeutic resources together when allegations of child abuse or maltreatment are made in an effort to make the investigation process less traumatic for children.
The mobile unit is one of seven being funded through a partnership between the Office of Victim Services and the Office of Children and Family Services that aims to better serve children and families who live in rural communities and counties that cover a large geographic area. The units are CACs on wheels, meeting children where they are and eliminating the need for families to travel long distances to get help and connect to resources.
Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “Where a child lives should not affect the quality or accessibility of services available for victims of abuse. This custom-built mobile unit will ensure that no matter where a child abuse victim lives in Delaware County, they will have a safe and convenient place to access services in their own community. As a former special victims prosecutor, I’ve seen first-hand the effect this type of trauma can have on child abuse victims. With the expansion of these services, child abuse victims and their families can start on their road to healing.”
Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, “Child advocacy centers are a national model of child-protective investigative best practice and OCFS is proud to administer this program on behalf of many key stakeholders. When families suffer the trauma of child sexual abuse, the CAC provides a coordinated, timely and effective response to helps them recover from the painful ordeal.”
Delaware County Social Services Commissioner Dana A. Scuderi-Hunter said, “The Delaware County Child Advocacy Center is the culmination of years of planning and advocacy and we are grateful to have these services available for families who need them. This will improve our response to child sexual abuse investigations and will eliminate the need for any child victim to have to retell the story of their victimization over and over.”
The Delaware County Department of Social Services received $250,000 for the purchase of the unit, which will be operated by Delaware Opportunities, and will receive $50,000 annually for three years to cover operation and maintenance. Each unit is fully equipped with a waiting area, a child-friendly interview room, an observation room, bathroom facilities, as well as recording and observation equipment. The units will be staffed with a victim advocate and will enable team members to choose a centrally located safe place to meet the child and family in their own community. The goal is to reduce trauma for the families by increasing their accessibility to services in these rural communities.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the investment late last year. The six other mobile units will be delivered throughout the summer and fall to the following grantees:
- Clinton County District Attorney’s Office: one unit for Essex and Franklin counties, including the St. Regis Reservation
- Mental Health Association of Fulton and Montgomery Counties: one unit for Hamilton County (available to Fulton and Montgomery as needed)
- Parent Education Program: one unit for Allegany and Cattaraugus counties
- Steuben County Department of Social Services: one unit for that county.
- Victim Assistance Program of Jefferson County: two units, one to serve St. Lawrence County and the other, Lewis County
The OVS-OCFS partnership also provided funding to the Department of Social Services in Steuben, Tioga and Wayne counties, and the Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office to expand existing Child Advocacy Centers in those counties. Each grantee has been awarded $350,000 over three years for their expansion projects. With this investment, New York has 58 child advocacy centers covering every county across the state.
Child Advocacy Centers serve more than 24,000 children each year, providing critical access to services and support in response to traumatic events for children and their families, such as physical and sexual abuse. The CACs include a multidisciplinary team of professionals from law enforcement, the district attorney's office, Child Protective Services, family advocacy, medical and mental health providers, and staff from the child advocacy center. The CACs are equipped to conduct initial and ongoing forensic interviews, medical exams, and psycho/social assessments in a child- and family-friendly setting.
The Office of Children and Family Services (www.ocfs.ny.gov) serves New York by promoting the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, families, and communities. @NYSOCFS, @NYSOCFS_espanol and www.facebook.com/nysocfs
The Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) provides a safety net for crime victims and/or their family members, helping eligible individuals with medical and counseling expenses, funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and support, in addition to other assistance, all at no cost to taxpayers. The agency also funds victim assistance programs that provide direct services, including counseling, advocacy and legal services, among other help, across the state. @NYSPublicSafety and www.facebook.com/nyspublicsafety.
Monica Mahaffey | [email protected]
Press Office | Office of Children and Family Services | (518) 402-3130
Jill Spadaro | [email protected]
Press Office | Office of Victim Services | (518) 457-8828