Creating the Child Advocacy Center

By Haylee Pence

[email protected]

TROY – Isaiah’s Place is working closely with various organizations and departments in Miami County to create a Child Advocacy Center to serve the children of Miami County who have experienced abuse.

The other organizations and departments include local law enforcement, the Prosecutor’s Office, Children’s Services, Victim Witness, mental health clinicians, and medical partners. Representatives from each organization/department meet for monthly planning sessions and between those meetings, work on various assignments to continue working towards creating the center.

Currently, the group is utilizing a guide released by other centers to create the Miami County center. At their last planning session, the group was creating their mission statement and vision utilizing words like prevention, prosecution, compassion, healing, conviction, and awareness.

Jennifer Knisley, case manager of Isaiah’s Place, stated, “at the end of the day, everyone’s priority is the same, the kid. Their well-being, safety, healing, and comfort. They come first for us.”

The goal of a Child Advocacy Center is to provide a multi-disciplinary response to victims and to provide efficient and quality investigations by providing timely responses, resources, and improved outcomes.

“We want what is best for our kids. We don’t want to give them mediocre medical care when they’re sick, it just makes sense that we want to give them the best when it comes to these situations. A Child Advocacy Center is the best way to handle it,” commented Knisley.

The plans for the Child Advocacy Center is to create a kid-friendly, sound-proof room in which to conduct interviews and another room where necessary individuals will be able to watch the recording. The current process has many steps where the victim tells their story repeatedly to multiple agencies and has the potential to re-traumatize the victim with each story. Then, the victim might not receive timely counseling. The creation of the Child Advocacy Center would provide timely resources and the victim wouldn’t be repeating their story. The necessary individuals needed to prosecute, investigate, and help the child heal would all listen to the video recording of the interview as the case manager is interviewing the child. “There’s so many benefits to the child,” said Knisley.

The group has presented their information to the Miami County Commissioners in order to request funding. The Child Advocacy Center is budgeted for $150,000 in the first year which includes all start-up costs. The following years would require less funding. The group will be presenting to the cities and villages within the county. “I’ll go anywhere at any time to talk about this,” said Knisley. “We would love to be able to open our doors by the end of the year.

To donate to the creation of the Child Advocacy Center, visit the Isaiah’s Place website at www.isaiahsplace.com/donate-1 and click the Child Advocacy Center donation link.