Westchester County's Child Advocacy Center Receives National Accreditation

Thursday, April 18, 2013

WESTCHESTER COUNTY’S CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER RECEIVES NATIONAL ACCREDITATION

The Center is a collaboration among all agencies in the County involved in the assessment, prosecution, treatment and prevention of serious child abuse

The National Children’s Alliance (NCA), a professional membership organization dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse, has awarded accreditation to The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a program of the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) and affiliated with the Maria Ferrari Children's Hospital of the Westchester Medical Center.

NCA works side-by-side with programs and professionals throughout the country to minimize trauma for abused children, break the cycle of abuse, and enhance prosecutor’s abilities to charge perpetrators in both the criminal and family courts.

Westchester’s CAC is one of only 22 programs in the 62 counties of New York State which has earned NCA accreditation. Westchester’s CAC offers child victims of physical and sexual abuse the opportunity to receive all necessary medical, emotional, and victim advocacy services at a single child friendly location. This mulit-disciplinary model allows for coordinated investigations by law enforcement and Child Protective Services and ensures that children are not further victimized by systems intended to protect them.

To obtain accreditation Westchester’s CAC demonstrated a multi-disciplinary response to child abuse as well as the provision of medical, mental health and victim advocacy services in a culturally competent manner. The CAC also met the criteria of conducting sound forensic interviews of children, holding meaningful interdisciplinary case reviews, having organizational support and the ability to track cases. Accreditation is subject to review every five years.

Westchester County’s formation of an approved multi-disciplinary investigative team (MDT) was an essential component in the CAC’s receipt of NCA accreditation. In addition to the CAC, the MDT’s partner agencies work in cooperation to minimize trauma to abused children. The MDT is comprised of the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Social Services, the local investigating police agency and several victim advocacy groups and mental health providers.

Westchester’s CAC has recently undergone a major renovation resulting in a warm and child-friendly space. The CAC is proud to be one of only three programs in New York State that offers a Child Abuse Fellowship program that provides specialized training to pediatricians in child abuse medicine.

“Our County has worked very hard to achieve this milestone and it is a credit to the many agencies that have worked together to ensure that children in Westchester who have been reported for abuse receive the best possible assessment and intervention services in a manner that doesn’t further victimize them,” said Wendy Breitner, Ph.D. Director, Child Welfare Services for the Westchester Institute for Human Development.

“District Attorney Janet DiFiore said, “Establishing a Multi-Disciplinary Team in Westchester County was one of my first priorities when I was elected District Attorney. One of the primary goals of having a MDT is to be able to investigate allegations of abuse without revictimizing the child victims. This accreditation of the Child Advocacy Center from the National Children’s Alliance, not only validates all our hard work over the past three and one-half years, but it also gives us the ability to continue protecting and serving some of the most vulnerable in our society, our children.”

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