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Children's Advocacy Center Opens New Home In Charleston

Reported: Apr. 8, 2014 10:16 PM EDT
Updated: Apr. 9, 2014 10:39 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) Abuse cases are all too common, but when a child's been victimized, there's a place they and their families can turn to for help.

There are several child advocacy centers all across the state. Those facilities bring together a variety of experts to help kids who have been abused. In Charleston, one of those centers has a new home, which hopes to continue helping families and kids heal.

"Certainly our doctrine is child first. So we don't want to retraumatize a child who may have gone through something already. We want to make it as easy for the child to feel comfortable and tell their story," said Dr. Joan Phillips, CAMC Children's Advocacy Center Co-Medical Director.

Experts at the Children's Advocacy Center at CAMC Women and Children's Hospital hope this new building is part of what creates that comfortable setting. Until now, the center was in a small office inside the hospital. Thanks to CAMC and the generosity of corporate and community donors, this free-standing child center was made possible. The center's mission is to coordinate resources to serve child abuse victims and their families.

"Law enforcement, CPS, whoever needs to be are back there hearing the story as it's being told from the child's perspective," said Dr. Phillips.

The new building includes interview rooms with two-way mirror, and recording devices to help in prosecuting cases. This center is also the only one in West Virginia with medical experts on site, to physically examine kids who've been abused, all of which is invaluable to police investigating these crimes.

"It really assists us to get that good forensic interview, and then that physical exam. It just helps overall in the case," said Cpl. Marlene Moore with West Virginia State Police.

She only wishes there were more centers available.

"If there's more around then we can utilize these more, and it gets the word out there. Families know it's available and they can use this facility," Cpl. Moore.

With 400 cases coming through these doors last year, it's proven a valuable service to help victims and their families through both the legal..and healing process.

"We hope by whatever then the outcome is, whether prosecution...it's one less time that child will be abused or another child might be abused. So it's also helping the community at large and helping us be a coordinated effort to be sure our children are safe," said Dr. Phillips.

Right now, Huntington is looking to become the next city to get an advocacy center.

Anyone can refer a child or family to these facilities. Most often, referrals come from police, doctors, and child protective services.



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