Mount Nittany Health and Mount Nittany Medical Center have announced they will be funding the construction of the Children’s Advocacy Center for Centre County.
The center will be located on Medical Park Lane in Bellefonte and will act as a central location for dealing with child abuse cases, Stacy Parks Miller, Centre County district attorney, said.
The various agencies and professionals that a child may need, from the Centre County district attorney, to the local police, to Centre County Children and Youth Services, will be able to congregate there around the child, Parks Miller said.
Rather than having to go independently to different services, Parks Miller said children who have been abused will be able to meet with the professionals in one centralized location. In this center, children who have been abused will be able to tell their story in one interview rather than to each professional that they go to, which will dramatically reduce the amount of trauma that the children experience, Parks Miller said.
Mount Nittany Health and Mount Nittany Medical Center is funding the renovation of the facility that the center will be housed in and support the training of the physicians, Nichole Monica, director of communications of Mount Nittany Medical Center said.
The existing building will be split into the Child Advocacy Center and a pediatric practice, Monica said. In addition to legal services, the center will be a central location for children to receive therapeutic services and medical services, Parks Miler said.
Housing the advocacy center and the pediatric practice in the same building will also help create a centralized space for all the professionals, Monica said. The center will serve Centre County, but its doors will be open to all surrounding counties as well, Parks Miller said.
“Only 21 out of the state’s 67 counties [have a child advocacy center],” Parks Miller said. “Now we’re going to be the 22nd and we’re very lucky.”
The advisory board of the center identified gaps in services in this region for children who have been abused and hopes to have the center open by this summer, Monica said. There will also be three pediatricians who will be trained specifically to take care of children who have been abused, Monica said.