Washington County Child Advocacy Center to Open
Washington County Children and Youth Services
Washington County, PA
Washington County will lead the charge in providing optimum services for children who are victims of sexual and severe physical abuse. In a first of its kind collaboration, on Monday, January 6, “A Child’s Place at Washington,” will open its doors. A Child’s Place at Washington represents the first satellite collaborative children’s advocacy center in Pennsylvania, made possible through the joint efforts of the Washington Health System, A Child’s Place at Mercy, The Washington County District Attorney’s Office, Washington County Children and Youth Services and the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
To improve child protection, child advocacy centers are designed to provide a safe, child-friendly environment, where children are interviewed regarding alleged maltreatment. The center also provides a means of collaboration between child welfare professionals, law enforcement, medical personnel and victim services.
Studies have established that this kind of coordinated approach lessens the trauma to child victims by reducing the number of times they are interviewed, and allows joint planning to determine the best course of legal and supportive action for the child abuse victim. Located at Washington Hospital, “A Child’s Place at Washington” will provide professional staff trained in the forensic interviewing of children as well as specialized medical examinations under the direction of the facility’s medical director, Dr. Mary Carrasco.
The importance of making child advocacy centers available to all children in Pennsylvania was highlighted in the report issued by The Task Force on Child Protection, formed by the State General Assembly following several high-profile child sexual abuse cases that occurred in Pennsylvania, most notably, the Penn State/Jerry Sandusky case. Their report recommended that a child advocacy center be located within a two-hour drive of all children in Pennsylvania.
Recognizing the importance of having a local CAC, Director of Children and Youth Services Kimberly Rogers, Washington County District Attorney Gene Vittone, and Deputy District Attorney Traci McDonald helped to spearhead this effort.