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State Officials Tour New Mobile Child Advocacy Center Serving Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton Counties

August 28, 2019 - 2:15pm

Mobile Center allows the Regional Child Advocacy Center of Fulton, Montgomery & Hamilton Counties to improve services for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse

State Officials Tour New Mobile Child Advocacy Center

Serving Fulton, Montgomery and Hamilton Counties

 

Mobile Center allows the Regional Child Advocacy Center of Fulton, Montgomery & Hamilton Counties, a program of the Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties, to improve services for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse

 

Executives from the New York State Office of Victim Services and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services today toured a mobile Child Advocacy Center (CAC) that will allow the Johnstown-based Regional Child Advocacy Center of Fulton, Montgomery & Hamilton Counties to improve services for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse. Funded through a partnership between the two state agencies, the mobile CAC is the only one of its kind in the greater Capital Region.

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 CAC is one of seven funded through the state agency partnership, which aims to better serve children and families who live in rural communities and counties that cover a large geographic area.

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin and Office of Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole visited Johnstown this morning to tour the mobile CAC with Janine Dykeman, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties. The Regional Child Advocacy Center of Fulton, Montgomery & Hamilton Counties is a program of the Mental Health Association, which received the mobile unit last month.

Office of Victim Services Director Elizabeth Cronin said, “The Office of Victim Service is always seeking new partnerships that will allow us to enhance services for victims of crime, especially those who are most vulnerable: children and the elderly. We heard consistently from advocates who work with children about the need for additional Child Advocacy Centers, particularly in rural communities. This partnership with the Office of Children and Family Services will help ensure that children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse can receive the services they need, regardless of where they live, which will help them on the path to recovery and 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 bring these mobile services to families in rural areas where access to needed services can be challenging. When children suffer the trauma of physical or sexual abuse, the CAC streamlines the investigative process and provides a coordinated, timely and effective response to put children and families on a path to healing. Having the ability to bring a coordinated team approach closer to where the child and family live will be a huge benefit.”

Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties Executive Director Janine Dykeman said, “Transportation for many people living in the communities we serve can be a challenge. The mobile Child Advocacy Center enables us to better respond to child victims of physical or sexual abuse and their appropriate family members or guardians by bringing the investigation and victim services to the families wherever they live in the three-county region.”

The Mental Health Association received $250,000 for the purchase of the unit and will receive $50,000 annually for three years to cover operation and maintenance. All seven mobile CACs were custom made by Winnebago’s Specialty Vehicles division, built on the company’s SuperStructure® commercial shell and based on specifications provided by staff from the Office of Children and Family Services. All seven mobile CACs are 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 rural communities and counties with a large geographic area.

Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicles Director Robert Kim said, “The team at Winnebago is honored to see our commercial shell vehicles used in the important work supporting children and families through the outreach services of the Office of Children and Family Services and Office of Victim Services. It’s clear that for some families traveling to a fixed location to obtain services is not practical. We applaud the State of New York for innovating their outreach services beyond brick and mortar buildings by providing mobile solutions.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the OVS-OCFS partnership late last year. The following nonprofit organizations and agencies have received funding for the six other mobile units.

  • Clinton County District Attorney’s Office: one unit for Essex and Franklin counties, including the St. Regis Reservation
  • Delaware County Department of Social Services: one unit for that county
  • 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 Office of Victim Services-Office of Children and Family Services 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 total investment of $4.45 million in federal funding, New York now has 58 Child Advocacy Centers covering every county across the state.

Child Advocacy Centers across New York State 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 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 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.

The Mental Health Association in Fulton and Montgomery Counties’ Child Advocacy Center began working with children who have been the victims of physical and/or sexual abuse in 2009. 

Along with the CAC, the Mental Health Association also offers a variety of other programs and services including Advantage and Empire Afterschool programs in the Gloversville and Fonda-Fultonville school districts; a licensed daycare for children from 6-weeks-old to 5-years-old; residential services for youth and adults who are living with a mental health or emotional disorder in Montgomery County; Family Support Services; Peer Services; Representative Payee Services; Employment Programs; and a Community Education program.

Winnebago Industries, Inc. is a leading U.S. manufacturer of outdoor lifestyle products and commercial vehicles under the Winnebago, Grand Design and Chris-Craft brands. Since the 1980s, its Specialty Vehicles division has leveraged the Winnebago motorhome platform to design and build custom community outreach vehicles for customers around the world. With flexible floorplans and chassis options to suit different budgets and sustainability goals, Winnebago commercial shells are ideal for applications such as mobile medical and dental services, DUI/BAT, cancer and preventive screenings, food trucks, event marketing, bloodmobiles, classrooms, bookmobiles, and many other applications.

Contact:

Monica Mahaffey | [email protected]

Press Office | Office of Children and Family Services | (518) 402-3130

Janine Kava | [email protected]

Press Office | Office of Victim Services | (518) 457-8828