Monmouth will complete child advocacy center

A ground-breaking ceremony was held recently for the second phase of the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center, Freehold Township.

The 4,237-square-foot addition to the center will complete the facility and provide a safe haven for children who are victims of child abuse, according to a press release from the county. It will be a place where they can access medical care and mental health, social advocacy and law enforcement services following a report of abuse.

“Today’s groundbreaking is very important because it demonstrates Monmouth County’s commitment to the Child Advocacy Center and the incredible services it will offer to the innocent children who will find themselves here,” said Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the courts and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

Located on the county’s campus off Kozloski Road, the second phase of the center will include an on-site pediatric forensic medical suite, a nurse’s office, an interview room, group and individual therapy rooms, and an expanded waiting area.

“Our ability to do a better job for these kids and their families will increase substantially when phase two is completed. It will mean fewer trips to facilities across our county and beyond, so these kids can be treated medically under the same child-friendly roof where they meet with our detectives and assistant prosecutors,” Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux said.

Phase two includes conference rooms and office space for the multidisciplinary team. The building will connect to the current facility with a separate entrance to the group therapy area as well as for law enforcement personnel, according to the press release.

Since the opening of phase one of the center in April 2009, more than 2,000 children and their families have been seen in the “child-friendly” setting. The second phase will help to further co-locate the professionals who can help the children begin to heal.

The Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center is based on a national model that represents the best standards of care for child victims and will locate all professionals under one roof, according to the press release.

Having all of the necessary services under one roof results in a more coordinated response and investigation into reports of child abuse. It also will be less traumatic for the children because they will have to travel to only one location to tell their story, greatly reducing their stress. Without a centralized facility, children travel to various locations to access these services, according to the press release.

Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the county’s Department of Human Services, said that in addition to fact gathering by law enforcement personnel, the center will provide supplemental services such as medical and mental health care to children who are victims of abuse.

The Board of Freeholders awarded a construction contract for $1.58 million to Tri-Form Construction Inc., Metuchen, at its Sept. 23 meeting.