Officials cut the ribbon to officially open the Children's Advocacy Center of Kennebec and Somerset Counties.
WATERVILLE, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The ceremony to dedicate the new Children's Advocacy Center of Kennebec and Somerset Counties was a bittersweet affair for all who attended.
"It is very sad to know that children are abused everyday, in every part of this country, and frankly in every part of the world," stated Anne Lynn, project director for the Northeast Regional Children's Advocacy Center. "The beauty of today is that this is an opportunity for the professionals who do this very difficult work to do it together, to do it in a coordinated fashion, and to reduce the trauma to kids who have to go through that process."
The new center, located in a small office on the 5th floor of Maine General Medical Center's Seton Campus in Waterville, has a small waiting room, a cozy, kid-friendly interview room and an adjacent conference room.
he interview room is equipped with a camera that can record interviews and be broadcast in the conference room on a closed-circuit, allowing assembled response team members to listen in and begin the process of helping the victim and their family.
"The space is important, but what is really important, is what happens in that space," explained Donna Strickler, executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center. "What is important is the people that are doing the work to make a difference in the lives of children and families, that's what is making a difference."
"We really do this with a collaborative approach," added Strickler. "I think that is important, in that if we are going to do this in a way that is effective, we need to do this together."
Strickler says the center's response teams are comprised of law enforcement officials, health and human services employees and medical and mental health professionals. Members are able to work together to help provide support and care while making the process more streamlined for kids and their families.
"We will be able to follow a case all the way through from the time that a child is interviewed through prosecution," said Strickler.
Strickler says the majority of the center's clients will come through referrals by law enforcement and the Department of Health and Human Services, but people who want more information about the center can contact them by calling 207-377-1010.
The Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center also operates a free, 24-hour helpline for victims of sexual assaults that is available to anyone needing assistance which can be reached by calling 1-800-871-7741.