First of its kind in nation
NORTHEAST PA-A new center that will serve victims of alleged physical and sexual abuse and neglect in northeast Pennsylvania recently opened. The Teen Advocacy Center (TAC) will help teens between the ages of 13 and 18. TAC is part of the Children's Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania (CAC/NEPA) and is the “first of its kind” in the nation. On Nov. 14, 2013, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Senator John Blake joined the Board of Directors of CAC/NEPA at the opening of TAC. The 1,300 square foot building is located at 1710 Mulberry Street, Scranton, adjacent to CAC/NEPA. TAC will provide “the same forensic medical and forensic interview services” that were previously offered to adolescents in the CAC, but the services will now be done in an environment “designed exclusively for teenagers.” There is a medical examination room, a forensic interview room, a forensic observation room, a conference room and family reception area and a teen resource library. “The issue of child and adolescent abuse has never been more important,” said Mary Ann LaPorta, executive director. “Currently, in the United States, one in four girls will be sexually abused before she reaches the age of 18. That same fact is true for one in six boys.” She said that since 2004, CAC/NEPA has witnessed at 210 percent increase in the number of victims served by the center. “In 2012 alone some 1,107 children from Northeastern Pennsylvania required the child abuse intervention services of CAC/NEPA,” she said. Using the CAC's multidisciplinary approach, LaPorta said teen victims will have access to forensic medical examination, forensic interviews and counseling, which will be offered in a “comfortable and safe environment” that provides confidentiality to teens and their families. “We are able to provide these services to teens through the generous support of regional partners and foundations including Geisinger CMC, the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Sanofi Pasteur, the Wayne County Community Foundation as well as countless individuals who have given so generously of their time and resources,” LaPorta stated. They will also be working with Wayne County so that a TAC can be developed there as well. About CAC/NEPA CAC/NEPA is a nonprofit, charitable organization whose mission is to provide excellence in the assessment and treatment of children/teen victims of abuse and neglect. The designated child abuse center for Lacakwanna County, the CAC/NEPA also provides forensic medical assessments and forensic interviews for cases referred from Monroe, Wayne, Carbon, Susquehanna, Luzerne, Pike and Wyoming counties. The CAC/NEPA coordinates a multidisciplinary team response to each case of child abuse, acting as the neutral agent for children/teen victims of abuse and the contact point for treating, tracking and referral to resources needed including District Attorneys, law enforcement and Child Protective Services. Services provided include forensic medical assessments, forensic interviews, trauma therapy/counseling coordination, child advocacy services, medical services for juvenile detainees, child abuse prevention education, child abuse prevention training (recognizing/reporting) and professional consultation. These services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are provided free of charge. CAC/NEPA conducts an ambitious educational program throughout its service area. More information can be found at www.cacnepa.org. They can also be reached by calling (570) 969-7313.