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Mount Nittany Health Children’s Advocacy Center Recognizes April as Child Abuse Prevention Month

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On April 4th, Mount Nittany Health Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) joined Children and Youth Services, Centre Safe, and the YMCA of Centre County to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Month and Sexual Assault awareness month, and to highlight the importance of families and community members working together to prevent and treat child abuse and neglect.

Since 2014 Mount Nittany Health’s Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Centre County has been a vital first step in the difficult journey to healing and hope for area children involved in 2,800 child abuse cases. In the CAC’s safe, warm, and welcoming setting children work with a highly skilled investigative team who collects evidence to build a legal case. The CAC team includes a forensic interviewer who has expertise in pediatric behavioral health and a pediatrician specializing in child abuse medical examination, among others. CAC staff coordinate the legal response, testify in court, and remain dedicated advocates for the child throughout the life of their case.

“At the Children’s Advocacy Center, every child is greeted with dignity, care, and compassion,” says executive director Diana McWilliams. “We work with our partners every day and are proud to be part of this collaborative effort to serve children and families in the Centre region.”

Accredited by the National Children’s Alliance, the CAC utilizes a collaborative multi-disciplinary approach that includes law enforcement, children’s/youth service organizations, mental health practitioners, victim advocates and the District Attorney’s office to ensure children have dedicated advocacy.

At the CAC, age-appropriate furniture, toys, crayons, and activities put children at ease, so they feel comfortable enough to tell their story. The ability for children to tell their story — in a safe place, to a neutral party, in an evidence-based manner — is a key factor in their healing and recovery. Importantly, interviews are recorded so children do not have to keep telling their story to multiple agencies. The recording is used as evidence in legal proceedings and the forensic interviewer testifies in court.

The medical exam also is a crucial step in the healing process. Children and their caregivers experience immense therapeutic value in simply hearing from a physician that their “body is working just fine” and that it can heal. We are the only facility in the region with the expertise of two onsite pediatricians specially trained in child abuse forensics.

Additionally, our expertise and ability to help children and their caregivers understand what to expect not only provides children and their families with the connections and resources needed along their journey, it reduces the impact of their trauma.

If you know or suspect a child is experiencing abuse, please call Pennsylvania’s toll-free, 24-hour reporting ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313 immediately, or contact your local police department. You do not need proof of abuse to make a report.

For more information about the Mount Nittany Health Children’s Advocacy Center, visit