December 18, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 341-0999 or (212) 341-0886
Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt and Commissioner Richter Announce Groundbreaking of the City’s Fifth Child Advocacy Center in the Bronx
Every Borough Will Have Child Advocacy Centers to Assist Victims of Child Abuse
Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt and Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald E. Richter today announced the groundbreaking of the first fully co-located Child Advocacy Center in the Bronx. Set to open in February 2015, the new advocacy center - located at 1775 Grand Concourse - will be devoted to serving victims of child abuse and their families. The new facility will house a multi-disciplinary team of social service, law enforcement, medical and legal experts who will collaborate to address the needs of victimized children and their families in the Bronx. Rather than conducting a series of potentially traumatizing and separate interviews at hospitals, police precincts and district attorney’s offices, the center will bring together experts into one permanent and child-friendly location. The construction of the Bronx center fulfills the Administration’s commitment to establish a Child Advocacy Center in each borough to help children who are suspected of having been sexually or physically abused.
“Victims of child abuse will benefit from the multi-disciplinary approach which provides a streamlined method of investigation and prosecution, eliminating the need for duplicative interviews of already traumatized child victims,” said Criminal Justice Coordinator Feinblatt.
“Today’s groundbreaking for the Bronx Child Advocacy Center brings to fruition the City’s vision that every borough have a fully co-located center with a multi-disciplinary team to meet the needs of vulnerable children who may be the victims of abuse and violence,” said Commissioner Richter. “Child Advocacy Centers help to reduce some of the trauma experienced by children who may be the victims of the most severe cases of abuse by having medical personnel, mental health counselors, the Administration for Children Services, the New York City Police Department, and the Bronx District Attorney co-located to coordinate an investigation. We are grateful to Safe Horizon and our City partners for their commitment to this most important community resource.”
“Safe Horizon is extraordinarily grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and his Administration for establishing a comprehensive Child Advocacy Center in the Bronx and for fulfilling his pledge to bring a coordinated response to victims of child abuse in every borough,” said Ariel Zwang, Chief Executive Officer of Safe Horizon. “From Woodlawn to Hunts Point, from Morris Heights to Throgs Neck, the City’s fifth Child Advocacy Center will help ensure that we are taking all possible steps to keep our youngest neighbors safe from further harm. Safe Horizon is proud to coordinate the efforts of our partners in law enforcement and child protection to begin the healing process for child victims of abuse.”
Once completed, the new center will be staffed by professionals from half a dozen key agencies and organizations, including the City’s Administration for Children’s Services the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad; and Assistant District Attorneys and social workers from the Bronx District Attorney’s office. The Bronx Child Advocacy Center will primarily serve children under 13 years of age and their family members.
Safe Horizon, a nationally recognized victim advocacy agency serving over 250,000 children and families each year, will coordinate multi-disciplinary services in the Bronx, as they have in the other boroughs, beginning in Brooklyn more than 17 years ago. Similar to Family Justice Centers, Child Advocacy Centers provide support and a higher quality of services - including social, legal and medical assistance - to victims by bringing together a wide array of services under one roof.
The Administration for Children’s Services has implemented many reforms and initiatives that have kept New York City children safer, including maintaining an average child protective caseload of 10, which is among the lowest in the country. Over the last two years, ACS has increased the number of investigative consultants - former New York Police Department detectives, who assist Child Protective Specialists in their work by providing guidance on approaches to gathering information, following leads and coordinating with law enforcement. The new Bronx Child Advocacy Center will enhance the Instant Response Team (IRT) efforts of ACS and NYPD to interview potential victims simultaneously, which has been shown to be better for the child, family and investigation.