March 28, 2015

Child advocacy center funds approved


Staff Reporter

The Cortland County Child Advocacy Center is hoping Cortland Regional Medical Center receives specialized training in examining child victims of sexual assault but the county has once more agreed to contract for services through a Syracuse hospital in the meantime.
The Child Advocacy Center handles cases involving child victims of sexual and other abuse, and provides a safe environment for interviews and counseling. The center is funded by state grants through the state Office of Children and Family Services.
The county Legislature on Thursday approved a $6,000 grant from the state. The funds will be used for services provided by the Child Abuse Referral and Evaluation, or CARE, program located at Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. The funds will cover rape exams and other specialized services for young victims.
The county has approved these funds since the District Attorney’s Office took over the center in 2012. District Attorney Mark Suben became the supervisor and administrator of funds for the entire program.
Kristen Beard, coordinator of the center, deferred to Suben for any comment or questions.
“This is a stop-gap measure so we can take care of our needs until we get the other system in place in our own community,” Suben said Friday afternoon about the money from OCFS.
The center was established to avoid having child victims of sexual and physical abuse having to testify at trials.
“They are resulting in the resolution of cases ... without the victim having to go to trial because the evidence is there,” Suben said.
There have been discussions with Cortland Regional Medical Center to provide training for these specialized services so the center can use local resources when needed.
Suben said hospital CEO Mark Webster has been very supportive of having training for Cortland hospital employees provided by the CARE program.
The training is specialized to care for children who have been victims of sexual or physical abuse.
Dr. Ann Botash, co-director of CARE, said Cortland Regional Medical Center is looking to offer Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training for the services to be available in urgent care if children cannot be transported to Syracuse.
SANE is geared toward specialized care and evidence collection.
She added the CARE program is not available on the weekends and having services at all times would be beneficial for the county.
By contracting with the CARE program, trained nurse practitioners will conduct services needed such as rape kits and sexual trauma examinations that were not available in the county.
Some of the clinical services provided from the CARE program include emotional assessment of the child, follow-up care if needed, referral for treatment or counseling and a social interview with the child’s caretaker, according to the website for Golisano Children’s Hospital.
Other medical services include an examination with photo documentation with a colposcope and other lab and X-ray tests. A colposcope is a magnifying device used in rape kit examinations.
“It worked out to be a great collaboration in the community between our team and the Cortland (CAC) team,” Botash said. “That can only help the children that we see.”
Botash added Cortland County is not the only community that has a problem getting people to train for these services. She also said people usually do not see sexual assault examining as a specialty of pediatrics.
“I think it’s really exciting they (Cortland County) have an advocacy center,” Botash said. “It’s really organized and focused on helping these children. It’s been an area they’ve been trying to figure out for a while.”
County Legislator Kevin Whitney (R-Cortlandville) said Friday afternoon it is important to have the center for those cases and he applauds the combined effort of the offices of the district attorney, the sheriff, and the Department of Social Services.
Suben applauded the work the Golisano Children’s Hospital does for the Cortland County’s center and for all child victims.
“They have a mission the same as we do, to help and protect children,” he said. “We’re thankful that they exist and they do a super job.”
The Child Advocacy Center is located in the Cortland County Office Building, 60 Central Ave., Cortland. For more information, call 607-753-5087.

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