BUFFALO, N.Y. – Today, the Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center (CAC), a program of Child & Adolescent Treatment Services, marked the 20th Anniversary of providing a team approach to the treatment and investigation of child abuse and serious physical abuse. Since its opening in 1994 the Center has served more than 10,000 children in our community. Representatives from each of the partnerships that function collaboratively to make the center a safe haven for the most vulnerable children in our community participated in the event.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz joined Bonnie Glazer, President of Child & Adolescent Treatment Services; Judith Olin, Program Director of the CAC, Deborah Dee, NP, of Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Captain Steven A Nigrelli of the New York State Police, First Assistant Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty, Jr.; DeChantal Cummings, LCSW, a trauma focused therapist and United Way President Michael Weiner in celebrating 20 years of working together so that children and their families are supported from the beginning of a child’s disclosure to recovery.
“It makes a big difference when children in crisis are served in a child friendly environment.” said Bonnie Glazer, President, Child & Adolescent Treatment Services. “The multi-disciplinary team (MDT) approach eliminates the need for an upset child to be shuffled through police stations, emergency rooms, and prosecutors offices, therefore sparing the child the fear and trauma often associated with these experiences.”
Since opening, the Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center has provided:
· 6,600 forensic interviews by individuals professionally trained in child interviews
· 6,540 forensic medical exams
· Mental health services and referrals to over 6,600 children and their families
Additionally, the collaborative efforts coordinated by the CAC have assisted in the conviction of over 1,400 child sexual abuse perpetrators.
The creation of the Child Advocacy Center, organized by the late Lee Gross Anthone, revolutionized our community’s response to child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. The Center helps lessen the trauma experienced by abused children, provides a warm, child-friendly setting where the children can be interviewed and receive specialized medical exams and provides referrals to community resources. The Center also supports the child and family through the judicial process advocating for the protection of children involved in abusive situations.
Bringing a voice to the children and families served at the Child Advocacy Center DeChantal Cummings, LCSW and trauma focused therapist said “The children will often tell me ‘I’m so glad you believe me cause no one else does’”.
“The Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center is one of the most critical partners of Erie County’s Child Protective Services. By bringing CPS investigators together with medical, mental health and law enforcement professionals, the Child Advocacy Center is able to help victims of child abuse while bringing their perpetrators to justice,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
One young child told Ms. Cummings simply “This place is safe for my head and my heart”.