MISSION & VISION
Our mission is to provide a safe environment for the evaluation of alleged child abuse for children 3 to 18 years of age. Through the collaboration of public, private, and community partners, we work to ensure the safety, health, and well being of abused children.
We believe our multidisciplinary approach is the best way to serve the needs of children and their families impacted by child abuse. We will create a neutral place where interviews and services for abused children are provided. We will connect children and families traumatized by abuse with needed community resources. We will coordinate multidisciplinary teams for the child’s benefit. We support our staff’s professional development. We will educate our community and partners to prevent child abuse.
• The Child Advocacy Center of Rockingham County opened its doors in Portsmouth in January of 2000, becoming the model for all developing Child Advocacy Centers in the state. Since then we have served over 6,000 children.
• Governor Craig Benson issued an executive order in July of 2003 to establish the Governor’s Commission for Child Protection.
• In November 2003, that Commission issued its findings and recommended the development of a statewide network of Child Advocacy Centers.
• Governor Benson and Attorney General Peter Heed secured funding to help establish a Child Advocacy Center in all 10 counties, with the funding for each Center phasing down over a period of 5 years.
• Today, New Hampshire has 100% coverage with a Center in every county.
WHAT WE DO
At the Child Advocacy Center, it is our goal to help nurture child abuse victims and provide a safe environment for them to make their voice heard, as we get to the bottom of the case of abuse or neglect.
Before Child Advocacy Centers, a child was subjected to numerous interviews upon report of abuse. The child might be questioned by a parent or teacher who received the initial disclosure, followed by the police in whatever space was available – from a holding jail cell to the back of a police cruiser. Child Protective Services would then question the child at an office or in the child’s home, and the child would then visit his or her doctor for an exam and further questioning. In some cases, the child might be questioned even more by a local prosecutor. In total, a typical child abuse victim would be interviewed an average of 9 times by different people, with different questioning styles and agendas.
We think there’s a better way. When a child abuse victim is interviewed so many times, it only increases trauma – a counterproductive way to conduct a solid investigation. The Child Advocacy Center brings together all parties within the investigation to one child-friendly, neutral location, so that one interview can be conducted with all relevant parties represented. Everyone’s questions are asked through a trained forensic investigator skilled at interviewing children. The National Children’s Alliance reports that in municipalities where a Child Advocacy Center is utilized, there is a 40% increase in successful prosecution of child abuse cases.
Our process not only benefits the child, but also the entire community. Statistics reflect that children suffering abuse who do not receive a strong intervention are 67 times more likely to become juvenile offenders. By offering services to 100% of Rockingham County children that are victimized by reported abuse, we make a difference in our community and reduce child trauma.
WHO WE HELP
We serve all children 3 to 18 years of age across Rockingham County who are victims of alleged child abuse or neglect, and their families or support system.
Child abuse is not something we like to think about, admit is real, or let alone suspect it be happening to our own children. But the reality is that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. The more educated we are on the facts and how to teach our children about body safety, the better we are armed in the fight against child abuse.
At the Child Advocacy Center, we are here to help and support you, turning hurt into hope.