Montgomery County leaders recommit to protecting children from abuse
interagency agreement signed to support CARE House
Montgomery County leaders and area partners reaffirm their commitment today to keeping children safe from abuse and neglect, by signing an interagency agreement to support CARE House. Designated representatives from across the county renewed their support of the child advocacy center and its unique approach to handling the most serious, complex cases in the community.
CARE House involves a partnership between Dayton Children’s Hospital, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, Dayton Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services. In addition to these founding partners, all law enforcement agencies in Montgomery County use CARE House for their child abuse investigations.
This centralized, child-focused approach brings together all the services needed in a child abuse investigation - law enforcement, child protection services, prosecution, mental health experts, medical professionals and victim advocates - to help reduce the trauma that victims experience.
“We file a case of child abuse or neglect for prosecution, on average, every week,” says Mat Heck, Montgomery County prosecutor. “The most crucial piece of every investigation comes from the child, and the team work involved at CARE House allows us to obtain the information we need, without forcing a child to tell their story multiple times.”
“It is through collaboration that we can provide the best support for children who suffer from abuse or neglect and work to stop the cycle,” says Deborah Feldman, president and CEO at Dayton Children’s.“CARE House shows our lasting commitment to our community to uphold our mission of improving the health status of all children through service, education, research and advocacy.”
a significant date
It was on February 14, 1992 that a community task force came together after several high profile cases of child abuse in Montgomery County. This group, led by Brother Raymond Fitz, wanted to ensure that abused children did not fall through the cracks. The report that the group issued every year would come to be known as the Valentine’s Day Report.
The task force found that victims of child abuse were receiving a fragmented response from the various local agencies dealing with their case. They wanted to find a way to coordinate this response to better serve these children. The current CARE House director, Libby Nicholson, was serving as a social worker at Dayton Children’s Hospital. She knew about a children’s advocacy center model created in Alabama and knew this was something our community needed.
Support of Dayton Children’s leadership, a grant of $55,000 from Montgomery County and a community of committed partners with the shared goal of protecting children established a central location to join forces and house the representatives from the various agencies. CARE House saw its first child at the beginning of 1999 at 741 Valley Street.
Since then CARE House has served more than 600 children a year, often the worst of the nearly 5,000 cases of abuse reported in Montgomery County. With a growing trend of abuse in the region, CARE House and its collaborative mission is needed now more than ever.
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