• Abbie Newman and Leslie Slingsby, Write Opinion Article for the Inquirer
    “Institutions face risk for child sexual abuse. Here’s how they can prevent it.”

    Release Date: 09.18.2019

    More and more, the public has begun to understand what we here at Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center already know too well: Institutional child sexual abuse is a prevalent problem in our local communities as well as around the country. Whether the Boy Scouts of America or the Catholic Church, no organization interacting with children is immune to this issue. The institutional sexual abuse of children is never a one-off or single occurrence, but rather a pervasive symptom of the ingrained power dynamics and relationship structures upon which organizations are built.

    When it comes to institutions, a number of factors allow child sexual abuse to repeatedly take place and stay hidden. For institutions with distinguished histories or devoted followings, it can become all too easy to prioritize upholding that long-cultivated public perception at the cost of a child’s well-being. Especially for those that rely on donations, protecting the group’s overall reputation can become more important than ensuring the safety of the children they serve.

    According to Forbes, the Boy Scouts of America received nearly $300 million in private donations in 2015, accounting for more than one third of the group’s total revenue. Creating and sustaining a positive image is integral to the organization’s well-being — yet sometimes comes at the expense of its members.

    The leadership structures of institutions can also enable child sexual abuse. Although it makes sense that adults assume authority and control in these settings, this can endow blind trust in leaders while discrediting children. When presented with accounts from an institutional leader in contrast with those of a child, organizations are likely to side with the superior.

    These ingrained power dynamics sometimes silence victims. From the beginning, children are told who their leaders are and are made to understand their status on the organizational totem pole. As a result, they may feel weak or disempowered, especially when they are abused or betrayed by those that they have been told to trust or look up to. In fact, as many as 93% of sexual abuse victims under the age of 18 know their abuser, according to Child Rescue Network.

    Institutional child sexual abuse is a complicated issue without a single solution. Although recent allegations against the Boy Scouts of America — and resulting wave of potential lawsuits — likely won’t be the last, there are a growing number of initiatives to address this problem.

    For example, new legislation expanding the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse cases is empowering victims to speak up and seek justice. But statutes of limitations vary between states. Victims in Pennsylvania have until 50 years of age to file a criminal action for sex abuse they experienced as children, and age 30 for civil suits, with calls to extend both and grant a one- to two-year window for those whose actions have currently expired.

    Beyond structural change such as new laws, we must hold ourselves accountable as individuals to protect children on an everyday basis. Adults have the power to spot warning signs and listen to victims asking for help. That’s why at Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center we offer free “Darkness to Light” training to teach adults how to recognize, prevent, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Also known as “D2L,” it is a nationally distributed, evidence-informed program shown to increase knowledge, improve attitudes, and change child protective behaviors. Research suggests just a third of child sexual abuse cases are identified, and even fewer are reported. When adults are trained and educated, they can better protect children and bring abuse to light.

    The institutional sexual abuse of children has been an issue for years and unfortunately will continue to be. Recognizing the prevalence and legitimacy of this problem is the first step toward effective solutions, like legislative initiatives and on-the-ground training programs. In the face of this ingrained issue, we must continue to prioritize prevention and empower victims to seek justice and healing.

    Abbie Newman is the CEO of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to achieving healing and justice for victims of child abuse. Leslie Slingsby serves as the organization’s executive director. www.missionkidscac.org

    Click the hyperlink to read the article.  https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/child-sex-abuse-prevention-boy-scouts-catholic-church-20190918.html

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  • Mission Kids’ CEO, Abbie Newman, wrote an op-ed discussing the Epstein case, the prevalence of human trafficking in PA, and what Montgomery County’s STOP Human Trafficking Grant aims to achieve in our community and across the state of PA.

    Click the link below to read Abbie’s op-ed article:
    https://www.mcall.com/opinion/mc-opi-human-trafficking-local-solution-20190821-ybdbsuopcrgb7lraoarbbmappe-story.html

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  • First Annual Victim Advocate Network Training Meeting

    On Monday, June 24th, Victim Advocates from across the Commonwealth attended the First Annual Victim Advocate Network Training Meeting. Marlene Carson, SurThriver and CEO, The Switch presented on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

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  • Job Announcements

    Position:         Intake Coordinator/Community Educator
    Supervisor:     Executive Director

    Organizational Mission:

    The mission of Over The Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center (“OTR”) is to meet the needs of abused children in the community by providing a community-based, child-focused center that facilitates a compassionate, multidisciplinary approach to the prevention, identification, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse.   

    Job Summary:

    This position is operationally responsible for receiving, managing, and coordinating all referrals for OTR services. Over The Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center is not just a facility, but rather serves as an interagency coordinated response center, in addition to providing specialized direct services to child sexual abuse victims. The Intake Coordinator is directly responsible for the coordination of the MDIT response to reported child abuse. This position will also be involved in ongoing outreach and education efforts to community stakeholders on child abuse issues along with provision of direct services to include forensic interviews of children.

    General Responsibilities:

    *Receives, screens, and coordinates all referrals for OTR services;
    *Triages cases based upon case dynamics/safety needs and coordinates/schedules forensic interviews to ensure that all necessary MDIT members are present on the day of the child’s appointment;
    *Compiles accurate case tracking information, documents service provision, and case/data details for entry into the OTR case database system;
    *Assists in generating statistical reports for community analysis and grant reporting;
    *Assists staff (Managing Forensic Interviewer) with monthly case review preparation;
    *Provides and/or participates in training with employees, associate agencies, and the community to promote the Children’s Advocacy Center model for general child abuse prevention and intervention strategies;
    *Works closely with OTR staff (Family Advocate) to assure that all children and non-offending caregivers receive ongoing support and services;
    *Communicates regularly with parents/guardians during the entire MDT process to ascertain whether child abuse victims are receiving all of the help and support needed;
    *Administers Outcome Measurement Surveys to all family’s receiving services from OTR;
    *Conducts (in a backup capacity as needed) professional forensic interviews of children and adolescents who are alleged victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse or witness to a violent crime;
    *Accepts other responsibilities when necessary and/or assigned.

    Additional Responsibilities:

     Community Education/Prevention

    *Works with OTR staff to develop and implement both school based and community curriculum in the areas of child abuse and neglect, intervention, and prevention;
    *Fosters and maintains a trusting, helpful relationship with MDIT members including law enforcement, Children and Youth, the District Attorney’s office along with medical and mental health professionals

    Job Requirements and Qualifications:

    Education

    *Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field required. Advanced degree in a field related to the multidisciplinary function of the Children’s Advocacy Center, such as law, social work or criminal justice is preferred.

    Experience

    *At least 2 years of experience working with victims of child abuse and their families, and a demonstrated knowledge of the dynamics of child abuse and family violence;
    *Prior work with Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, and District Attorneys preferred;
    *Prior training and experience conducting forensic interviews of victimized children, testifying in court proceedings, and working within a multidisciplinary team preferred;
    *Experience providing community education and professional training;

    Knowledge Requirements

    *Proficiency in Spanish preferred;
    *High level of written and oral communication skills, organizational skills, computer skills, collaborative capabilities; and
    *Proficiency with Microsoft, Word, Excel and Outlook

    Interpersonal, Intellectual and Physical Requirements

    *Individual should possess tact, good judgment, flexibility, and ability to work as a team member with individuals from a variety of disciplines;
    *Ability to work well under pressure, multi-task and balance diverse requirements noted above and respond quickly to challenges;
    *Highly motivated, flexible, organized, and an independent team player;
    *Ability to work efficiently with minimal supervision;
    *Ability to manage and prioritize multiple tasks;
    *Bending, stooping, reaching and other movement required in dealing with children. Lifting of office materials (up to 20 lbs.);
    *Must be able to travel overnight to conference and training requirements;
    *Must have valid driver’s license or ability to get to programs at various locations; and
    *Must have or be able to pass PA State Police, PA Childline and Federal fingerprint screenings.

     Salary and Benefits:

    Competitive Salary with benefits.  Negotiable.

     How to apply:

    Send cover letter and resume (with 3 references) to Dianne Kelso, Executive Director, Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center, 1461 S. Main Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

    Deadline for Applications: August 8th, 2019

    Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center is committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals and endeavors to hire individuals of diverse races, colors, creeds, ethnicities, religions, genders, gender identities or expressions, ages, sexes, sexual orientations, national origins, disabilities, and citizen, marital, veteran and HIV statuses.

    Position:         Mental Health Coordinator
    Supervisor:     Executive Director

    Organizational Mission:

    The mission of Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center (“OTR”) is to meet the needs of abused children in the community by providing a community-based, child-focused center that facilitates a compassionate, multidisciplinary approach to the prevention, identification, investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse.   

    Job Summary:

    This position has operational responsibility for essential mental health screening, and initial and ongoing support for child abuse victims who are clients of OTR.  The Mental Health Coordinator is directly responsible for crisis support, trauma assessment of the child victims and his/her non-offending family members, mental health treatment onsite or referrals and to follow-up with trauma-trained clinicians in the community who meet National Children’s Alliance standards.  The position involves confidential work with sensitive information about child abuse victims and partner agency personnel at supervisory and front line levels.

    General Responsibilities:

    *Provides initial crisis support for child abuse victims during forensic interviews and/or pediatric medical evaluations;
    *Provides ongoing supportive counseling to the child and family as needed throughout the investigation, intervention and prosecution phases;
    *Provides an initial, informal mental health assessment following forensic interviews and/or pediatric medical evaluations;
    *Schedules formal mental health assessments within a week of first contact with parents/guardians and administers these formal mental health assessments to all child victims, as well as to non-offending family members to determine the extent of the trauma each person is experiencing that is connected with the specific event;
    *Grades formal assessments and makes recommendations regarding mental health treatment and determines whether treatment will occur onsite or be referred to trauma-trained clinicians in the community;
    *Personally provides mental health treatment onsite when needed, as well as makes referrals to linked clinicians for child victim mental health treatment—making certain clinicians will follow the TF-CBT model;
    *Communicates regularly with clinicians who are providing treatment to child abuse victims we have referred to gather evidenced-based information regarding the progress of the victims;
    *Communicates regularly with parents/guardians during the entire MDT process to ascertain whether child abuse victims are receiving all of the help and support needed;
    *Tracks the mental health progress of all clients—whether seen onsite or by linked clinicians in the community—on the CACs tracking software; and
    *Accepts other responsibilities when necessary and/or assigned.

    Specific Responsibilities:

     Clinical Support Groups

    *Establishes and provides oversight to clinical groups for children and adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse;
    *Establishes and provides oversight to clinical groups for parents/caretakers of children and/or teens who have experienced sexual abuse; and
    *Tracks the mental health progress on each client participating in the support groups.

    Community Education/Prevention

    *Works with the Executive Director to develop curriculum and provide community and agency education in the areas of child abuse and neglect, healthy child development, and sexuality.

    Professional Trainings and Peer Reviews

    *Ensures that ongoing mental health training and education is a priority and partners with other agencies to provide focused clinical trainings to ensure MDIT agencies are able to provide quality, trauma-focused treatment for both child and adult victims; and
    *Facilitates quarterly peer reviews for mental health clinicians who provide treatment to clients who have been referred by OTR.

    Job Requirements and Qualifications:

    Education

    *Master’s degree in counseling, social work, or related field; or a professional license to practice independently as a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Master/Clinical Social Worker; or previous experience in play therapy and/or therapy with abused and traumatized children preferred

    Training (licenses and certifications)

     *At least 2 years of experience working with victims of child abuse and their families, and a demonstrated knowledge of the dynamics of child abuse and family violence;
    *Trained in trauma focused, evidenced-based mental health modalities, including the TF- CBT model;
    *Maintain current licensure and/or certification; and
    *Maintain good standing with the appropriate state licensing board and group membership affiliations.

    Experience

    *Prior relevant experience as practicing mental health professional with abused children or use of Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy preferred;
    *Prior work with Child Protective Services, Law Enforcement, and District Attorneys preferred; and
    *Experience providing community education and professional training; and
    *Preferred experience testifying in court.

    Knowledge Requirements

    *Proficiency in Spanish preferred;
    *High level of written and oral communication skills, organizational skills, computer skills, collaborative capabilities; and
    *Proficiency with Microsoft, Word, Excel and Outlook

    Interpersonal, Intellectual and Physical Requirements

    *Individual should possess tact, good judgment, flexibility, and ability to work as a team member with individuals from a variety of disciplines;
    *Ability to work well under pressure, multi-task and balance diverse requirements noted above and respond quickly to challenges;
    *Highly motivated, flexible, organized, and an independent team player;
    *Ability to work efficiently with minimal supervision;
    *Ability to manage and prioritize multiple tasks;
    *Bending, stooping, reaching and other movement required in dealing with children. Lifting of office materials (up to 20 lbs.);
    *Must be able to travel overnight to conference and training requirements;
    *Must have valid driver’s license or ability to get to programs at various locations; and
    *Must have or be able to pass PA State Police, PA Childline and Federal fingerprint screenings.

     Salary and Benefits:

    Competitive Salary with excellent benefits.  Negotiable.

     How to apply:

    Send cover letter and resume (with 3 references) to Dianne Kelso, Executive Director, Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center, 1461 S. Main Street, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

    Deadline for Applications: August 8th, 2019

    Over the Rainbow Children’s Advocacy Center is committed to providing equal employment opportunity to all qualified individuals and endeavors to hire individuals of diverse races, colors, creeds, ethnicities, religions, genders, gender identities or expressions, ages, sexes, sexual orientations, national origins, disabilities, and citizen, marital, veteran and HIV statuses.

     

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  • PA Chapter Contingent Meets with Senator Toomey

    PA Chapter member CACs and MDITs met with Senator Toomey on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 in Washington, DC.
    The group educated the Senator on important child abuse issues in the state of Pennsylvania as well as the efforts being made by the Chapter and its membership to help child abuse victims throughout the state.

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