Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — A new “child-friendly” facility at Healthy Families of Clallam County provides a place for children who have been assaulted, sexually abused or neglected to be recorded during interviews with law enforcement while also being connected with support services.
The Children’s Advocacy Center, which serves Clallam County, was created in the back of Healthy Families’ building at 1210 E. Front St., Suite C, in Port Angeles, funded by grants and donations.
“We already serve child victims of domestic/sexual violence and child abuse and neglect, but this CAC will allow us to provide a child-friendly forensic interview room along with a family waiting room on site,” said Becca Korby, executive director of Healthy Families.
“This will mean families and children going through the trauma will have one place where law enforcement and support services come together, with the goal of minimizing additional trauma,” she said.
Finished in mid-April and already in use now, the area was remodeled into three rooms: a family waiting room, a room for recording interviews with law enforcement and a multi-disciplinary team room.
A Child’s Advocacy Center is required to have a team representing six disciplines: law enforcement, prosecution, state Child Protective Services, a mental health provider, a medical expert and a victim’s advocate, Korby said Friday, just before conducting an open house of the facility.
“The approach is to bring the services to the child and minimize the number of interviews” needed before the case is brought to court, she said.
On average, a child is interviewed seven to 11 times for a case, Korby said.
All or some of the recorded interviews could end up in court, Korby said.
Portions of the recording could end up in the courtroom.
Until the new facility was created, interviews — which are conducted by law enforcement officers — were often held in “pretty stark rooms” in law enforcement offices or in those of Child Protective Services, Korby said.
“When they see things that distract them, they don’t necessary concentrate as readily, and the interview isn’t as effective as could be,” she said.
“One of the goals [of the CAC] is to increase the chance of successful prosecution.”
The new facility contains more than $24,000 worth of equipment. The remodeling cost about $10,000.
It was funded through grants from the National Children’s Advocacy Center of the Department of Justice and from the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Washington, as well as from donations.