Friends of the Child Advocacy Center
CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER
CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER
If you or someone you know is a victim of child abuse, call:
Child Protective Services — 301-600-2464 (8:00-4:00 pm); 301-564-8230 (after-4:00 pm)
Multidisciplinary Services for Child Abuse Victims and their families:
Frederick County Child Advocacy Center — 301-600-1758
Frederick City Police — 301-600-1857
Frederick County Sheriff’s Department — 301-600-6801
Maryland State Police Department — 301-739-2101
State’s Attorney Office — 301-600-2573
Victim Witness Coordinator — 301-600-2594
The Child Advocacy Center of Frederick County (CAC) was established on November 30, 1999 with the approval of the Frederick County Board of County Commissioners. It was initially housed in a small office within the Health Department.
The Center has grown into a suite of offices, including two play areas, a medical suite, an interview room, an interview observation room, a counseling office, and administrative offices. Located in a county building convenient to bus lines, the CAC’s address is published only to those with appointments there to increase privacy and safety for the children coming to the Center. The CAC is part of a statewide network of child advocacy centers, the Maryland Children’s Alliance, and is nationally accredited through the National Children’s Alliance.
In 2004, a group of women active in the Frederick Woman’s Civic Club formed to support the work of the CAC through contributions of volunteer labor and fundraising. By 2006, they had formalized their group into a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Friends of the CAC.
The Friends of the CAC continues to provide active support, and was honored at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect, receiving the 2014 Team Excellence Award for community service. Current projects include awareness and outreach activities, maintenance of a Healing Garden to remember those children who have lost their lives to abuse, food and care for Heiress, our therapy dog, new furniture, toys and paint for the CAC, and ongoing financial support to help meet the material and therapeutic needs of the children and families who come here.
Robin Grove, Director
Chantell Brooks, Services Supervisor
Arielle Bender, Fiscal Administrator
Jenna Moseman, Family Advocate
Starling Hathcock, Child and Family Counselor
Maya Hochberger-Vigsittaboot, Child and Family Counselor
Kristen Dunn, Forensic Interviewer (DSS Employee)
Meghan McGowan, Forensic Interviewer (DSS Employee)
Karla Paylor, Physician
Pamela Holtzinger, Forensic Nurse
Child Advocacy Center of Frederick County
The State of Maryland has demonstrated its commitment to child well-being through mandating the establishment of Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) throughout the state to facilitate working agreements between agencies responsible for responding to child maltreatment. Our CAC’s multidisciplinary team includes law enforcement officers, social workers, attorneys, medical professionals, and counselors through the Department of Social Services, State’s Attorney’s Office, Frederick Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick Memorial Hospital, Maryland State Police, other municipal police departments, and Frederick County Government. Case reviews are held at least twice per month, providing a formal opportunity for these partners to share information and coordinate services to meet the needs of the children and families involved.
The CAC is a department within the Citizens Services Division of Frederick County Government, and is funded through county funds, state and federal grants, and citizen donations. The CAC’s policies and procedures were written using the National Children’s Alliance (NCA) Standards for Accredited Members. Our facility was decorated and furnished by the Friends of the CAC.
The Child Advocacy Center of Frederick County provides a physically and emotionally safe, comfortable, private setting for children and their non-offending family members to access services when maltreatment is suspected. The location is secure, so only those children and families scheduled to come to the Center are allowed to enter. We value diversity and strive to offer accessible services in culturally competent, respectful ways. There is never a charge for services provided at the CAC.
Children coming to the CAC have the opportunity to tell their stories to professionals trained in child forensic interviewing protocols while family members and caregivers meet with the CAC Advocate to learn more about available services and supports. Counseling (on-site or through referrals to other behavioral health providers) is offered as needed and medical examinations are available two days per week.
The CAC offers a private room for children to talk to specially-trained interviewers. These interviews are conducted in a neutral manner, and are designed to be observed by other involved professionals through a video feed into an adjacent room. This helps to avoid having more than one interviewer in the room with the child while also helping to prevent the need for multiple, duplicative interviews.
The mission of the Child Advocacy Center of Frederick County is to promote child well-being by providing a child and family focused center to address reports of child maltreatment. Together we seek to prevent and reduce trauma to children and families using a multidisciplinary approach to investigation, prosecution, treatment, education, and advocacy.
The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is a program of Frederick County Government. The CAC works collaboratively with community partners including the State’s Attorney’s Office, Department of Social Services, Frederick Police Department, Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Frederick Memorial Hospital, City of Frederick, Heartly House, Frederick County Public Schools, Friends of the Child Advocacy Center, interns, local non-profit agencies, faith communities, businesses, and citizens. Services provided at the CAC that are available to referred children and their non-offending caregivers and family members include forensic interviews of children, pediatric medical examinations, counseling for children and non-offending caregivers, and advocacy.
For more information on the full range of services offered by CAC, check out their website and Facebook page.
Child Advocacy Center Story Times to Teach Children about Boundaries
Child Advocacy Center Story Times to Teach Children about Boundaries
Frederick County’s Child Advocacy Center on Wednesday kicked off a push to teach children about how to recognize inappropriate behavior and touching, and what to do if they feel like their boundaries have been violated.
Over the next two months, Robin Grove, the director of the Child Advocacy Center, and Kristen Dunn, a forensic interview specialist with the Frederick County Department of Social Services, will travel to eight public libraries around the county to engage children on the topic through interactive story times.
With the help of Heiress, a 6-year-old Labrador and golden retriever who is a trained service dog, Grove and Dunn will read “My Body! What I Say Goes!,” a book written by Jayneen Sanders and illustrated by Anna Hancock.
The picture book follows the story of a little girl and her friends as they learn about how to identify safe and unsafe feelings, recognize and honor their body’s early warning signs that they are uncomfortable, and clearly assert their physical boundaries.
On Wednesday, Grove, Dunn and Heiress visited the Point of Rocks Library, where they were joined by three children for the story time.
Kristen Dunn, left, of the Frederick County Department of Social Services, and Robin Grove of the Child Advocacy Center talk to children during a program at the Edward Fry Memorial Library in Point of Rocks. The Child Advocacy Center and Frederick Community College are partnering to revive a program in which kids can learn about the parts of their body and what inappropriate touching means.
Staff photo by Ric Dugan
Grove and Dunn asked their small audience questions about their feelings and adults in their lives who they can trust as they slowly made their way through the picture book.
“What makes you feel sad?” Grove asked at one point.
“Not getting the last cookie,” one child replied, making Grove and Dunn laugh.
Over the last few years, Grove has noticed progress in efforts to teach caregivers about the importance of giving children control over their bodies and their boundaries.
When she was growing up, she said, it was normal to have family members tell her to give her grandma a hug or a kiss, without considering whether she wanted to or not.
But, she and Dunn told the children on Wednesday, it’s their choice whether or not they want to give someone a hug or a kiss. They can politely say, “No thanks,” and give them a high five or handshake instead.
While the children listened to the story, Heiress lay sleepily at Dunn’s feet.
The mere presence of a dog or animal in a room can lower people’s blood pressure, Dunn said. Heiress is also a great icebreaker, she added.
At the Child Advocacy Center, where Heiress is trained to help children who may have been victims of mistreatment, the dog’s presence helps them open up to talk about their experiences.
“Some kids, especially some of the older ones, might not want to admit that they’re going to a story time at the library, or listening to books read by adults,” Dunn said. “But it can be, ‘Oh, I’m going to see the dog.’ … It opens people up.”
The picture book also addresses the difference between secrets and “happy surprises” with children. Surprises are meant to eventually be revealed, but secrets are meant to be kept.
That’s why children shouldn’t keep secrets, the book said.
“If someone asks you to keep a secret, like touching your private parts, kissing or showing you pictures of private parts, you must tell an adult in your safety network straight away,” Dunn read. “Even if the person tells you not to tell, secrets like that must be told.”
It’s important to teach children the correct names of their private parts, Dunn and Grove said. Doing so helps ensure a child is understood if they tell an adult that someone has touched them inappropriately. It also helps normalize their bodies, and give them a sense of ownership and control over them.
“A lot of times, if something were to happen to a child, they might feel that they’re in trouble or that it was their fault,” Grove said. “And when you’re adding that cloak of shame or embarrassment on top of it, it makes it even more difficult to be able to say something about it.”
If You Go
Next library visits:
Sept 28 at 10:30 a.m. - Myersville Library
Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. - Emmitsburg Library
Oct. 13 at 11 a.m. - Thurmont Library
Oct. 14 at 1 p.m. - Brunswick Library
Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. - C. Burr Artz Library
Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. - Urbana Library
Nov. 17 at 4 p.m. - Middletown Library
By Angela Roberts, Frederick News Post