April 04, 2005
Carroll County child advocacy group gets grant
April 4, 2005 [Citizen Online]
OSSIPEE — The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has awarded a $50,000 grant to fund the start-up of the Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County (CACCC) an established non-profit group whose mission is to serve children who are victims of sexual and physical abuse and their non-offending family members.
"Child Advocacy Centers effectively reduce trauma and stress experienced by children, and bring together professionals and agencies as a team — a multi-disciplinary team, to create a child-focused approach to child abuse cases," said Karen Hebert, Victim/Witness Coordinator for the Carroll County Attorney’s Office. No other agency focuses solely on the needs of the child. The Child Advocacy Center does just that.
The CAC is a proven model, using a holistic approach that brings together law enforcement, child advocates, mental health providers, medical professionals, child protection social workers and prosecutors to investigate and assess allegations of child abuse.
When a child is suspected of being abused the CAC will coordinate all agencies that need to participate in the planned investigation and assessment of that child’s case. The CAC will be a child-friendly setting that is physically and psychologically safe for children, where a person trained in forensic interviewing techniques would interview the child. The interviewing process uses the latest techniques and technologies to preserve the most accurate account of information from that child. The CAC tracks each child’s case, finding appropriate resources and referrals for the individual needs of that child. Services come at no cost to families and agencies. The need for updating the methods used by agencies to conduct investigation and assessments can be seen in recent data.
From 2001-2003 the N.H. Division of Children, Youth and Families Conway District Office received 957 referrals of neglect, physical abuse, mental abuse and sexual abuse. Each referral can have more than one allegation. This number does not include every out-of-home perpetrator referral, as this data is not maintained. The Carroll County Attorney’s Office received 113 referrals from law enforcement for prosecution during the same three-year period. Forty child abuse related convictions were obtained.
Establishing a CAC in Carroll County is part of a statewide initiative to respond to the individual needs of child victims and their families. In October of 2003, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office organized and supported the initiative with the assistance of the National Children’s Alliance. Each county in the state was provided with the opportunity for support and technical assistance to create an individual model to fit specific geographical and financial needs.
Professionals from Carroll County took that opportunity with the initial establishment of a steering committee that drafting the working model. A group of volunteers that believe in the CAC concept and saw the need for such an organization in Carroll County has since taken the next step.
Moultonborough Chief of Police Scott Kinmond was elected to serve as the president of the Board of Directors.
Other members of the board are David Tower CEO at Huggins Hospital serving as vice president; James Calomb, CPA of North Conway serving as treasurer, Bea Lewis-Wheeler of Meredith as clerk; Chris Coulter, general manager of Bald Peak Colony Club; Lt. Ken Fifield, of the Wakefield Police Department, Joan Davies of Jackson; Attorney Teresa Mahoney Mullen of Meredith; Justine Oktavec, supervisor of the Division for Children Youth and Families Conway District Office; Nancy Spencer Smith of Wakefield, and Liz Sweeney of Alton.
In addition to funds from the AG’s Office the CAC has also received a $2,500 grant award from the Carroll County Commissioner’s County Incentive Funds. The money will be used to hire a full-time program administrator and pay for support services, training, rent, equipment, start-up costs and outreach materials.
As a result of the grant award the Board of Directors is now actively seeking its first full-time program administrator and will be accepting resumes until April 1. The board’s goal is to complete the hiring process by late spring and begin operations by summer. The CAC has garnered the support of the Carroll County Association of Chiefs of Police, which have unanimously endorsed the concept of a CAC and agreed to serve as their fiscal agent through its developmental stage. Carroll County Attorney Robin Gordon fully supports the initiative and looks forward to the use of enhanced methods to investigate child abuse cases.
"We see the pain and fear in children’s eyes who have to endure multiple interviews, then often a physical examination and later a court trial. Having all agencies come to the same table with a CAC, we will have better continuity, consistency and success for prosecution of these cases," said Chief Kinmond.
"Carroll County Mental Health supports the development of the Child Advocacy Center and is very happy to be a partner in this process. Many of the children with whom we work will be positively impacted by the coordinator of information and care that is necessary at times when the children may be experiencing significant difficulty in their lives," said Laurie Brodeur CCMH director.
Development of the CAC in Carroll County has already come with training at no cost. In December of 2004, a team of eight professionals from Carroll County from law enforcement, child protective services, the mental health profession, the medical profession, victim advocacy and prosecution, attended a week-long training in
Portsmouth entitled Child Abuse and Exploitation Team Investigative Process, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Fox Valley Technical College. In March 2005, two police officers and one child protection worker from Carroll County were selected and sponsored by their agencies to attend the Childhood Trust Forensic Interviewer Training sponsored by the New Hampshire Network of Child Advocacy Centers and the N.H. Attorney General’s Task Force on Child Abuse & Neglect.
Detective Jill Barbour of the Conway Police Department; Detective Scott Moore of the Wolfeboro Police Department and Lisa Dekutoski, a child protection social worker based in Conway, all attended the week-long training held in Concord.
The CACCC is currently filing for status as a tax-exempt charity in an effort to enhance their abilities to receiving donations and gifts. Anyone interested in learning more about the CACCC can contact Chief Scott Kinmond at the Moultonborough Police Department at 476-2400. Donations can be sent to the Child Advocacy Center of Carroll County at P.O. Box 218, Ossipee, N.H. 03864