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Sunday, January 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

County's Justice for Children Advocacy Center awarded re-accreditation

post by Billie Owens in announcements, Justice for Children

Genesee County Justice for Children Advocacy Center has been awarded re-accreditation by National Children’s Alliance following an extensive application and site review process. Accreditation is the highest level of membership with National Children’s Alliance and denotes excellence in service provision.

As the accrediting agency for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CAC) across the country, National Children’s Alliance awards various levels of accreditation and membership to centers responding to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient, and put the needs of child victims of abuse first.

Accredited CAC’s must undergo a re-accreditation process every five years to ensure that best practices are continually being applied. With accreditation standards being updated in 2010, re-accreditation this year reflects the Justice for Children Advocacy Center’s commitment to providing evidence-based methods practice.

The Justice for Children Advocacy Center provides services to the children of GLOW region-Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming counties. In 2011 the Justice for Children Advocacy Center provided services to 184 children and their families. In 2012, it provided services to 237 children and their families. As an Accredited Member of the National Children’s Alliance, The Justice for Children Advocacy Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

National Children’s Alliance awards Accredited Membership based on a CAC’s compliance with 10 national standards of accreditation to ensure effective, efficient and consistent delivery of services to child abuse victims. Accredited members must utilize a functioning and effective multidisciplinary team approach to work collaboratively in child abuse investigation, prosecution, and treatment. National Children’s Alliance also considers standards regarding a center’s cultural competency and diversity, forensic interviews, victim support and advocacy, medical evaluation, therapeutic intervention, and child focused setting.

“As a team of individuals dedicated to responding to child abuse, we recognize the importance of maintaining Accredited status from National Children’s Alliance. Re-accreditation not only validates our organization’s dedication to proven effective approaches of child abuse intervention and prevention, but also contributes to consistency across the child advocacy center movement as a whole,” said Anne Bezon, Justice for Children Advocacy Center Supervisor.

Teresa Huizar, executive director of National Children’s Alliance, said: "The Justice for Children Advocacy Center is commended for its continued commitment to effectively serve victims of child abuse. As the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country, our goal is to ensure that every victim of child abuse has access to high quality services that result from professional collaboration.

"By requiring Accredited Centers to undergo re-accreditation every five years, we ensure that evidence-based practices are being implemented and the highest quality of services is being provided."

The mission of the Justice for Children Advocacy Center and Genesee County Multi-Disciplinary Team is to seek to reduce the incidence of child sexual and physical abuse, to minimize trauma to alleged child victims, and to promote healing for victims and their families by coordinating services at a single child-friendly facility.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Girl Scouts tour to give thanks

Some members from local Brownie Girl Scout Troop 42001 went around to visit some local places today to give thanks before the upcoming holiday. First stop was at Community Action of Orleans and Genesee to present some donations of goods to help familes for Thanksgiving.

We presented to Lisa Wittmeyer, case manager (left), some donations from our troop shown above. Next to her are Noelia Ventura, Alyssa Ognibene, Portia Ranalli, Co-Leader Steve Ognibene and Brandi Lang-Smith.

Then our troop visited and donated Girl Scout Cookies to Justice for Children pictured below.

Accepting the cookies was Julie Walsh (pictured middle holding our letter).

Our last stop was M&T Bank to give our thanks to Bank Manager Mike Easton (left, below) and present him with a Certificate of Sponsorship for allowing us to use his bank for our cookie booth sales this year. 

Our troop did very well in cookie sales and together with individual sales we sold 1,000 boxes of cookies. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

(Photos submitted by Steve Ognibene)

Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Kiwanis Club sets ambitious goal of raising $150,000 to benefit Child Advocacy Center

There was a time when a child who was victimized would have to go through a gauntlet of police and medical exams while a case was built against the perpetrator.

And at the end of the process, the child and his or her family was left alone to figure out how to deal with trauma and its aftermath.

Then a group of leaders in the local criminal justice system got together and created Justice for Children and the Child Advocacy Center.

Today, when a child is sexually or physically abused, the child is no longer brought to an intimidating police station for an interview, then driven up to Strong Memorial Hospital for a physical and forensic exam, and then perhaps put through interviews with another investigator or two.

Rather, at the CAC on Bank Street, the child is welcomed into a kid-friendly environment where the investigators, medical examiners and other specialists are brought in to simplify the process for the child.

The CAC also provides ongoing counciling, support and even clothing and school supplies to families that need the assistance.

"I can't imagine going back to the way that it was before," District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said. "It's just a great place."

Friedman is also president this year of the Batavia Kiwanis Club. As a national organization, Kiwanis has a mission of engaging in charitable and civic work on behalf of children. The Batavia Kiwanis adopted the CAC as its long-term project.

The first order of business is to raise $150,000 to buy a new building to house the CAC. The club's goal is to raise $100,000 itself and is asking other Kiwanis clubs to contribute a combined $50,000.

"It's hard for me to imagine a more worthwhile long-term project for our club," Friedman said. 

Currently, the CAC pays $1,300 a month in rent -- down from $1,500 when the landlord provided lawn care that is now performed by volunteers -- mostly Kiwanis members. 

Friedman said that $1,300 a month that could be used to benefit children directly, and it's also a big expense in an age when state and federal grants are being reduced.

According to Genesee Justice Director Tiffany Szymanek, the CAC receives money from three primary grants -- National Children's Alliance, NYS Office of Child and Family Services and NYS Office of Victims' Services.

A new formula for state grants has more funds going to CACs in larger cities and cuts to smaller cities, Szymanek said.

Cuts have forced CAC to reduce staffing from two full-time employees to one and a half, with the hours of Grace Flannery, a child advocate (pictured) having her hours cut in half.

Flannery's job is to help guide a child and family through the process, from the day the child first walks into the toy filled waiting room through the criminal investigation, the court proceedings and any counseling.

The waiting room, Flannery said, "at least makes them feel a little more comfortable."

It's a symbol of what the CAC tries to accomplish -- avoid victimizing children again by putting through the trauma of reliving their experiences in sterile, adult environments.

"If they are escorted from service to service, they are just re-victimized and re-victimized," Szymanek said.

In a tour, Flannery showed off the CAC's child-friendly exam rooms, the clothes closet, the school supplies stacked in the employee break room and a boardroom filling up quickly with donations for an upcoming fundraiser. She said many times she thinks the community needs to know about the work the CAC does to help victimized children.

"The CAC is a marvelous resource that the community should know about," Flannery said. "Anything you can do to help get the word out, we really appreciate."

The Kiwanis Club is sponsoring a "Bidding on a Brighter Future" Gala and Auction at 6 p.m., Sept. 17 at Batavia Downs. Donations of items for the auction are still being accepted. Tickets for the gala are $40 per person or $75 per couple. Checks can be mailed to: Justice for Children GLOW Foundation, Inc., 108 Bank St., Batavia, NY 14020.

Disclosure: As of Thursday, Howard Owens is a member of the Batavia Kiwanis Club.

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