Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna and Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist joined other community leaders to sign the Pierce County Child Abuse Investigation Protocol during a ceremony Friday on the campus of MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center in Tacoma.
This collaborative approach to prevention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse aims to reduce the traumatization and enhance the safety of child abuse victims and their families. The protocol is signed by representatives of 86 agencies throughout Pierce County.
“The people in this room believe caring for our children will make a difference in the future,” said MultiCare Health System President and CEO Diane Cecchettini, RN. “Our commitment to our vulnerable and injured children says something about who we are as a society. We have to improve.”
In the time since the previous protocol was signed in June 2010, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County has served 2,518 children by providing forensic interviews, medical exams, therapy, and consults and case collaboration.
The team approach strives to reduce the number of interviews of the victim, to be more consistent and skilled provision of services, to increase efficiency and success in prosecution, to reduce duplication of efforts by community agencies, and to protect of child victims.
The Pierce County Child Abuse Investigation Protocol has been adopted and is used by every law enforcement agency in Pierce County, including the military and FBI, as well as fire departments, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Child Protective Services, MultiCare Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center, several local school districts and many other service providers in the community.
In addition to Cecchettini, McKenna and Lindquist (pictured at right), others who shared remarks at Friday's ceremony were Nancy Sutton, administrator for the Division of Children and Family Services; Mady Murrey, administrator of Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center; as well as representatives from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Tacoma Police Department and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.
“Thanks to the collaboration throughout our community, we are holding offenders accountable and making our community safer for everyone, especially for our children,” Lindquist said.
Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna told a story about two girls, ages 9 and 11, who received exams, treatment and therapy at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County.
“It’s hard to listen to, but there’s a story of hope at the end,” McKenna said.
Their grandfather was arrested and prosecuted, and received a sentence of 50 years to life. McKenna noted that a successful prosecution is often the end of the story from a law-enforcement perspective, but that therapists at the center wanted to add another ending to the story, which came from one of the girls after months of treatment. It took the girls six months of therapy before they became comfortable with their bedtime routine.
“We’re doing a lot better, aren’t we?” the girl said. “That’s because we’re learning how to be part of a family.”
“It’s this kind of story that keeps us going,” McKenna said.
More about the Children's Advocacy Center of Pierce CountyThe mission of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County is to reduce the traumatization of child abuse victims and their families by facilitating a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to prevention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse.
How do we accomplish that?
By placing the needs of the child first. It is important for a child to receive services as soon as possible after a disclosure is made. Early intervention helps, not only the investigation, but for recovery to begin as well.
We participate in joint interviews, reducing the number of interviews a child must endure to complete an investigation. We improve outcomes by improving the immediacy of follow-up to child abuse reports and providing consistent support for the child and the supportive adults in their lives. In addition we provide community trainings for those who work with children to help to prevent further child abuse victimization.
Who are we?
The Children’s Advocacy Center team includes representatives from the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, local law enforcement, Child Protective Services, the Attorney General’s Office, local mental health provider, forensic interviewers, victim advocate, social workers and medical staff from the Mary Bridge Child Abuse Intervention Department.
What is a Child’s Advocacy Center?
A Children’s Advocacy Center is a community based facility designed for children ages 0 through 17 who are victims of suspected child abuse or neglect. We are a team of community professionals, based in one building, that provide a multidisciplinary investigation and case review for specifically identified cases of child abuse.
A special place…
This Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County was funded by the Rotary Clubs of Pierce County and the Tacoma Orthopedic Association as well as many other community supporters. Thanks to their generosity, we have created a place to meet the unique needs of our community by providing on-site medical staff, Child Protective Services, forensic interviewers and a mental health therapist. The Safe and Sound building is conveniently located on the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital & Health Center campus in downtown Tacoma.
Our aquatic theme dècor creates a relaxed atmosphere for children of all ages and is a child friendly, safe place for child abuse victims and their families.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County was established for our community to:
Promote child safety
Strengthen teamwork among professionals that work with victims of child abuse
Improve efficiency of referrals to investigative parties, medical, mental health and other treatment providers
Increase the rate of successful investigation and prosecution
Be a community resource for the education and training around child abuse issues
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Pierce County is recognized by the National Children’s Alliance and the Washington State Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers.
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a community based facility that has been designed with children in mind. A child friendly and relaxing atmosphere provides children and their families with a calming and supportive environment during a difficult time in their lives. Our lobby is full of children’s books, movies and toys, and includes a large fish tank.