Mason County enters partnership with Manistee Co. Child Advocacy Center

February 2, 2021

Mason County enters partnership with Manistee Co. Child Advocacy Center

Several Mason County agencies recently entered into a partnership with the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center in order to protect and serve vulnerable children. 

At the end of January, representatives from the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, Ludington Police Department, Scottville Police Department, Michigan State Police, Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Services, the Mason County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, District Health Department #10, West Michigan Community Mental Health, and Munson Healthcare signed the agreement.

“Formalizing this partnership is a significant step toward providing much-needed services for children within Mason County,” said Lauren Kreinbrink, Mason County prosecuting attorney.  “I’m tremendously thankful for the support that this partnership has received from our local law enforcement agencies, the health department, and our local Department of Health and Human Services office.  Without this support and Mrs. (Megan) McCarthy’s dedication, this partnership would not have been possible.”

Kreinbrink was instrumental in bringing together all agencies to discuss the advantages of entering into a formal agreement with the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center.

Children’s Advocacy Centers are child-focused programs where representatives from many disciplines work together to conduct interviews and make team decisions on cases of child abuse. The CAC model for child abuse intervention is proven and effective, bringing together trained professionals to investigate and provide medical and mental healthcare as well as support to child victims of abuse, while holding offenders accountable through the court system, according to Kreinbrink. Children’s advocacy centers are child-friendly and designed to create a sense of safety and security for child victims.

Megan McCarthy

The Manistee County Child Advocacy Center is one of 33 children’s advocacy centers in Michigan, and one of 980 in the United States. It was established in 2009, and its services include forensic interviews, victim advocacy, crisis intervention, mental health counseling, adult prevention education programs, referrals for forensic medical exams, and coordination of multi-disciplinary team case review. All services are provided at no cost to children and families.

In abuse cases not being served by a child advocacy center, a child who makes a disclosure of physical or sexual abuse or who is a witness to violence will often be interviewed at a police station or in a patrol car, and may be interviewed multiple times by law enforcement, CPS, and other professionals.

In cases that utilize a child advocacy center, children are interviewed once in a child-friendly setting by a trained forensic interviewer who is not in uniform. The interview is recorded and shared with all agencies involved in the case, which assures that the child will not be re-traumatized by having to retell the story of abuse again and again.

Following the forensic interview, a CAC family advocate works with the child and non-offending family members to schedule mental health counseling and medical exams if needed, and to connect the family with community resources. The CAC brings together all agencies for monthly case review and updates. The goal is full coordination among agencies, and no child falling through the cracks.

Lauren Kreinbrink

“While we have had a courtesy agreement in place to serve Mason County for several years, we appreciate the opportunity to formalize our partnership so that we can help provide important wrap-around services to children and families, and so that we can serve as a centralized hub for information sharing and case review,” said Megan McCarthy, executive director of the Manistee County Child Advocacy Center.

“All agencies are engaged and enthusiastic about this partnership. I am confident that this will benefit the children of Mason County.”

Manistee Child Advocacy Center is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance. The accreditation process requires effective, efficient, and consistent delivery of services. The process also ensures that programs adhere to rigorous standards of quality service provision known to be effective in helping children heal from the effects of abuse.

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