Our community experienced the deaths of a number of children from abuse and neglect. These highly publicized cases left the community asking questions about how these deaths could have been prevented and why the child protection system had not worked for these children. A child protection task force was established and the conclusion was drawn that our child protection system was fragmented and very difficult for a family seeking help to navigate.
A recommendation was made to establish a county-wide multidisciplinary joint investigation team to provide a more coordinated response to child abuse cases. From this came the realization that our community needed to join together in establishing a centralized, child-oriented facility that would house the team. In addition to the investigation team, the child advocacy center would serve as a centralized location for child interviews, case consultations, coordination of medical evaluations and other treatment services for the child victim and non-offending family members.
In 1997, five core agencies joined together in a collaborative partnership to establish a multidisciplinary investigation team and a child advocacy center in Montgomery County. Those agencies are The Children's Medical Center, Dayton Police Department, Montgomery County Children Services, Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office, and Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. An interagency cooperative agreement was signed in March 1997. The signatories, representing all 33 law enforcement jurisdictions in Montgomery County, as well as educators and mental health service providers, agreed that coordination of their services will provide a system that minimizes trauma to the child, eliminates excessive interviewing of child victims, and develops better, more complete evidence. It was also agreed that this type of interagency communication and cooperation will lead to more informed decisions for responding to the needs of these children.
Specifically, the agency representatives agreed to coordinate their efforts to:
- Develop a prompt, comprehensive, multidisciplinary response to child victims of abuse and neglect that is designed to meet the needs of the victims and their non-offending family members
- Hold the offender accountable for his or her actions
- Provide the child victims and their non-offending family members with needed services to protect the child from further harm
The Children's Medical Center committed the use of a facility at 741 Valley Street, with occupancy in October, 1998. The child advocacy center, CARE House, has become a reality for our community and is the focal point of what is evolving into an integrated child protection system in Montgomery County.
Recognizing that the successful implementation of this program is dependent upon the active support and involvement of the entire community, funding is being sought from a broad base. The Montgomery County Human Services Levy Council developed a 1996-1998 budget plan that set aside money for child protection services. In 1997, The Children's Medical Center received 3 years of partial funding for CARE House from the Levy Council Child Protection Set-Aside Fund. Additional start-up funding for the general refurbishing of the facility has been received from other funding sources. Contributions from special events have been received and CARE House benefits from the sale of People Pins. Additionally, each partnering agency has made cash as well as in-kind contributions toward the development of CARE House.
More information on CARE house and the CARE Team