Hospital officials, law enforcement officers and child advocates joined more than 120 community supporters Wednesday at the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $2.1 million advocacy center to serve abused children and their families in Montgomery County.
The center, known as CARE House, will be located next to The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton at the intersection of Valley and Grant streets. It will replace the current CARE House founded in 1999 across the street from the hospital in a century-old, Victorian style home that was formerly a Ronald McDonald House.
The center brings together advocates, law enforcement, child protection officers, prosecutors and mental health experts, among others, to provide centralized services for the more than 600 children brought to the center each year as victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The new facility, which is expected to open early next year, will double the size of the old facility. It will feature a child-friendly reception area, sound-proof interview and observation rooms, expanded space for mental health treatment and a multipurpose room for group therapy, support groups and prevention training.
The center is owned and operated through partnership between Dayton Children’s, Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office, Dayton Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office and Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services.
Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney Mat Heck said the current building simply is not big enough to effectively accommodate the growing number of children and families requiring advocacy services. Last year, CARE House served 616 families who had been affected by abuse, officials said.
“Thanks to the support and generosity of this community, we will have a child-friendly, state-of-the-art children’s advocacy center to better serve sexually and physically abused children,” said Heck, who chaired the CARE House “Building a Promise” campaign to raise money for the new facility. “Everyone was just so cramped before. If a physician came over for consulting or you had to bring in law enforcement, there just wasn’t enough space.”
Libby Nicholson, director of CARE House, said the new facility will help raise community awareness about child abuse in Montgomery County. She said more than a dozen children are reported abused or neglected in the county each day, and many of the worst cases of abuse are referred to CARE House, which is utilized by county law enforcement agencies for their child abuse investigations.
“When the new CARE House opens, we will be able to provide better services to our families not only because of a new building but also because of increased community support,” Nicholson said.
The CARE House groundbreaking precedes the national child abuse awareness campaign in April.