Letter to the editor: Middlebury advocacy center serving its clients well

 This is in response to Nancy Heatley’s Letter to the Editor on Sept. 8, 2016. One doesn’t need to look across the country to find a program like the Stuart House in Santa Monica, Calif. There is a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) right here in Middlebury that serves all of Addison County. The CAC is tasked with addressing sexual assault and serious child abuse through multidisciplinary investigation and intervention. The CAC has specially trained, trauma-informed investigators that interview children.
I recently accepted the position of the CAC’s victim advocate. My role here is multi-faceted, but when children and families come to the center, the focus becomes solely on them and their needs. I’ll often play with children while their parents talk to investigators, and make referrals to further services, like mental health providers. We keep children at the forefront, providing a family-friendly interview setting; while coordinating interviews so children aren’t subject to telling their stories “multiple times in a ‘scary’ institutional setting,” as Nancy mentioned of the Stuart House.
Members of our multi-disciplinary team include the Addison County State’s Attorneys Office, the Department for Children and Families, law enforcement throughout the county, the Counseling Center of Addison County, WomenSafe, Porter Hospital, and Middlebury College. There are now over 750 Children’s Advocacy Centers nationwide, and the Addison County CAC is committed to both holding offenders accountable and most importantly, ensuring the investigation is as trauma-free as possible.
Jennifer Ricard

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