Photo Courtesy of Google
This Safe Horizon CAC on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills will receive a share of $826,113 earmarked for CACs in all five boroughs.
By Forum Staff
Twenty-six State-approved Child Advocacy Centers will share more than $4 million to enhance services provided to children who are victims of crime, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.
The centers are located across New York and will use the funding to offset the cost of purchasing and installing video recording equipment, as well as hiring specially trained staff to interview young victims of sexual and physical abuse.
Facilities in the five boroughs are set to receive the lion’s share of the funding. Safe Horizon will get $826,113 of the $4 million for its CACs in Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.
“This critical funding will help provide a safe haven for children who have suffered from abuse and help them take the first step on the road to recovery,” Cuomo said. “With this funding, Child Advocacy Centers will be better equipped to partner with law enforcement to bring the abusers to justice while offering effective emotional support services to child victims and their families.”
Child Advocacy Centers allow multidisciplinary teams of law enforcement, child protective services professionals, prosecutors, medical and mental health providers, and victim advocates to partner with center staff and respond to allegations of child abuse. This collaborative approach helps to reduce trauma experienced by child victims, assists their families, provides necessary support services and allows for thorough investigations to hold offenders accountable.
According to the administration, the grant funding will allow the Child Advocacy Centers to either hire a specially trained forensic interviewer or an appropriate consultant to handle interviews with child victims. These professionals create an environment that provides children with a safe space to disclose abuse, reduces the number of times they must tell what happened, and helps children with their healing process. All centers also will purchase a variety of equipment to facilitate those interviews and allow multidisciplinary team members to communicate in real time while cases are being investigated, including video recording and conference call equipment, laptops, cell phones and smart boards.
The grants are administered by the State Office of Victim Services and are funded through the federal Victims of Crime Act and the state’s Criminal Justice Improvement account, both of which are funded through fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in state or federal court.
The OVS worked with the State Office of Children and Family Services – which approves and also funds Child Advocacy Centers – to determine how the funding could best support the centers’ work. OVS delivers additional funding to 18 CACs to provide direct services to children and families; those centers are part of a network of 223 victim-assistance programs across the state that is funded by the agency.
“As a former prosecutor, I can speak to the complex and heart-wrenching nature of child abuse cases and how essential it is to have services readily available to traumatized children and their families,” said OVS Director Elizabeth Cronin. “Child Advocacy Centers provide these critical services and this additional funding will allow those Centers to ensure that interviews are conducted by specially trained individuals in a manner and setting that is least intrusive to the child victims of physical or sexual abuse.”