Children's Advocacy Center
Children's Advocacy Center
The mission of the Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County, Mount Nittany Health, is to meet the needs of the children and families in our community by providing a community-based, child-focused center that facilitates a compassionate, multi-disciplinary approach to the prevention, identification, intervention and treatment of child abuse.
At the Children’s Advocacy Center, our primary focus is on the well-being of the child. Our team works together to make each child feel safe and secure, and to ensure that each child is given the opportunity to share their account of reported abuse, neglect, or other crimes they may have been victim or witness to. During a visit to the Children's Advocacy Center, children share their story as part of an investigation and begin their journey to healing. The Children's Advocacy of Centre County became fully operational on February 21, 2014.
What is the Children's Advocacy Center?
The Children’s Advocacy Center is a safe and comfortable place where children come to talk with a specially trained interviewer about possible abuse or crimes they may have witnessed. The Children’s Advocacy Center receives referrals from child protective services or law enforcement if there is concern that a child is an alleged victim or witness of a crime. A visit to the Children’s Advocacy Center gives the child an opportunity to talk about his or her experience in a child-friendly, safe and comfortable setting.
What Happens During an Appointment?
During a visit to the Children’s Advocacy Center, the child will talk to a trained child forensic interviewer. The interview is for fact-finding purposes only and is not a counseling session or psychological evaluation. The child is interviewed using child-focused and child-appropriate questions.
The interview is observed by a team of professionals, which can be comprised of an investigating officer, child protective services caseworker, and a representative from the prosecutor’s office. This approach ensures that a child will not be interviewed numerous times during the investigation.
During the child’s interview, the caregiver may meet with a victim advocate in a private waiting room. A victim advocate is trained to support victims of crime. This provides the opportunity for the caregiver to talk with the advocate about concerns, questions or next steps in the process that may not be appropriate to discuss in front of the child.
What happens during the medical exam?
After the interview, children referred to the Children’s Advocacy Center receive a forensic medical exam by a specially trained Mount Nittany Physician Group pediatrician. The exam includes a head-to-toe physical exam and is not painful. The caregiver can be present for the exam.
I’m concerned about a child in my community. Who can I turn to?
If you feel that a child in your family or community is the victim of abuse, neglect, or a witness to other crimes, that child needs someone to speak up on their behalf. We encourage you to contact ChildLine at 1.800.932.0313, or your local Children and Youth Services department. ChildLine staff is available to answer your call 24/7. Callers can remain anonymous. If you feel the child is in immediate danger, please contact your local police department.
How Can I Help the Children's Advocacy Center?
All of our services are offered to victims and their families at no charge. The Children's Advocacy Center is dependent on community support and donations in order to continue to offer this valuable support to children in our community.
Consider a donation to the Children’s Advocacy Center by contacting Mount Nittany Health Foundation at 814.234.6777 or fill out the online donation form.