The History of The Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse in Dutchess County
Each year, we serve more than 15,000 abused and at-risk children and provide support and education services to more than 3,000 adults. We are the only agency in Dutchess County providing sexual-abuse prevention training. Our support services help abused children — and educate adults to prevent future abuse.
We receive funding from a variety of public and private sources — but rely on individual donations and corporate donations for the bulk of our unrestricted support. We are a 501(c) (3) charitable organization. Thank you for your generous support!
The Capital Campaign
The Center currently serves more than 15,000 children and adults in Dutchess County. The need to protect children from abuse, however, is greater than our current personnel and facility resources can manage. We are currently raising money to expand our programs into other counties and to move into a more child-friendly location where a more effective environment of care can be established.
Each year in Duchess County, approximately 3,000 child abuse reports are fielded. In 2011, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), which has its home at the Center, worked with 698 children who either initiated or on whose behalf a report was made of alleged sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and/or neglect. The CAC is the only one of its kind in Dutchess County, and works closely with local and state law enforcement, the District Attorney’s office and Child Protective Services, as well as on a multidisciplinary level with outside organizations including Grace Smith House, Inc. (a domestic violence services provider), Astor Services For Children & Families (a resource for mental health counseling) and local medical professionals to assess and monitor each case.
In 2005, the CAC served 296 children. In 2007, however, the numbers jumped radically to 553 children. In 2009, the CAC saw 562; in 2010, it served 605 and in 2011 698 children walked through the Center’s doors. As of July 31, 2012, the CAC has already seen 413 children. One must also remember that for every one child who discloses, two or three children are not disclosing.
Currently, we have only one waiting room and one interview room in our facility to serve this growing population of child victims. In our new building, the Center will have two furnished waiting rooms, two child-appropriate interview rooms equipped with video recording devices and an examination room, creating an environment of care and lessening the trauma of disclosure for the children. The Center plans to purchase and renovate the handicap-accessible building, permitting the organization to serve the child victims of Dutchess County in one location, as opposed to transporting victims to area emergency rooms for physical exams and having victims repeat sensitive interviews off-site. Reducing the trauma to child victims benefits the most vulnerable population of our community.
Because child abuse is cyclical in nature, it is vital that in our efforts to prevent abuse, we rehabilitate parents who employ unhealthy habits in their parenting strategy. Our effort, titled the Parent Empowerment Program (PEP), targets parents who have been referred to the Center by the Department of Social Services as well as parents who have proactively contacted our parenting instructors for support. PEP, a 23-week curriculum that includes lessons on emotional honesty, anger management, child development and nutrition, served 1,936 parents in 2011. The Center’s Special Needs Parenting Program (SNPP), which served 61 parents and 82 children in 2011, remains the only program of its kind in the county, serving parents whose I.Q. falls at 70 or below with intensive in-home case management as well as class time at the Center.
SNPP and PEP will both benefit from the addition of a full kitchen as a classroom setting. Through a generous donation from the Ronald McDonald House Charities, we will have a state-of-the-art kitchen in which we will hold practice sessions for our special needs parents who may need extremely basic lessons on safety and cooking techniques as well as more nuanced nutrition classes for our parents who need more instruction on how to keep their children healthy.
The Center runs an efficient organization, employing 12 full-time people and two part-time staff. In our current facility, however, we do not have enough space to equip each person with a desk and computer. The facility as it stands is in dire need of repair on several fronts, yet because it is not handicap-accessible and meets few of our legal and ethics of care needs, there is no chance for us to improve upon this existing structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
With seed-funding from the Dyson Foundation, the Millbrook Tribute Garden and the Schlobach Charitable Trust, we are well on our way towards meeting our goal. Members of the Board of Directors of The Center, along with have also made generous contributions. We are now reaching out to the compassionate people of Dutchess County.
The Center is very fortunate to have a group of extremely dedicated volunteer board members. You can learn more about our board members here.
The Center is unique. Our Special Needs Parenting Program is the only one of its kind in Dutchess County. The In-School Personal Safety Program is also the only program of its type in the county providing in-depth information to young children. The Child Advocacy Center is a ground-breaking program. In 1994, Dutchess County was the first in New York State to establish a facility to ease the trauma of a child during the investigative phase of a sexual abuse case or a claim of serious physical injury. Over twenty other locales across the state have followed our lead.
The Center has 12 full-time and 3 part-time employees. Many have advanced training and certification in family development and education. We also are the home of the Child Advocacy Center, and provide support for the 12 law enforcement officers and social workers who investigate cases of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. Our annual budget is just under $900,000.
The Center, and the children of Dutchess County, are very fortunate in that the community at-large is very supportive of our work. In addition to ongoing financial contributions and volunteer efforts, the community comes together every year to support our annual fund-raising gala and auction. This past year, we netted $118,000 from this event, an unheard of level for an organization of our size.
We fully expect to be in our new home during the Spring of 2013.
Although the public learns of the high profile cases of sexual and serious physical abuse through the media, there are many more examples of neglect and emotional abuse. There are close to 3,000 reports a year of child abuse in Dutchess County. Many of these are unfounded, but there are still far too many instances of children being abused in our community.
The new space that we are planning to acquire will provide a positive environment of care, be child-and family-friendly, and allow staff to effectively conduct group and one-on-one training. It will permit us to not only carry on with our mission, but also enhance our ability to provide essential services in all areas of child abuse prevention.
A sad result of the economic crisis has been increased stress on families and more incidents of child abuse. One of our programs, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC), which investigates instances of sexual abuse and serious physical injury, has experienced a three-fold increase in its case-load in the past five years. In 2011, the CAC investigated over 393 cases – that’s about one every day of the year – involving 698 children.
In order to better serve the children and families, we are in desperate need of a new building. The current facility falls short in many important ways in achieving a “child-friendly environment” for victims who are to be interviewed by law enforcement officers and social workers, and who are to be examined physically by a doctor. Waiting rooms are not properly situated. Our staff does a tremendous job of caring for the child victim, but the space does not permit them to provide all that’s needed. As the number of cases has increased, the challenge to care for the child at this crucial time has become untenable.
Our New York State and Dutchess County Government funders have recognized the critical nature of our work and have sustained our funding.
The location and structure of the new site meet the stringent requirements established by New York State. We will double the available space. The site is conveniently located, i.e., close enough to the city of Poughkeepsie (court system and majority of clients), but in a residential and non-threatening neighborhood. It’s also convenient to public transportation. Parking is readily available on site. Importantly, there are separate parking and entrances for the CAC and the other CPCA programs and staff, so that child victims interviewed on site at the CAC (over 600 annually) are not intimidated by strangers.
The Center is supported by both public and private funding. Funders include the following: New York State Office of Children and Family Services, New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Dutchess County Department of Social Services, Dutchess County Youth Bureau, United Way of Dutchess County, National Children’s Alliance. In addition, generous businesses and individuals provide important financial support.
The Center provides a variety of programs and services designed to address the many causes of child abuse before it occurs. We reach close to 15,000 people annually in the community at large, as well as specific populations, including: school systems (administrators, teachers, children and parents) and at-risk families. We also work closely with law enforcement during the criminal investigative phase of serious child abuse cases.
For almost 40 years, we have been standing up for the children of Dutchess County. From a small task force providing educational services, the Center has grown to become a vital force in the community. We work closely with the court system, law enforcement, medical and social services organizations towards one mission: Preventing Child Abuse in Dutchess County.