The Randolph Tucker Children’s Advocacy Center’s Elkins location is currently undergoing remodeling so that on site medical exams room will be available. Medical exams rooms at the CAC would mean that instead of just receiving a checkup at the emergency room, they can receive a more thorough exam and the necessary support.
The remodeling will be complete in July. The CAC’s main location is in Elkins. There is a satellite office in Parsons in the courthouse building
One of the CAC’s main goals is to provide a coordinated response. When abuse is suspected, there are many agencies and professionals that are involved in the process. The CAC aims to help facilitate the process in a way that puts the child’s needs first. “The child only has to talk to one person. They don’t have to tell their story over and over again,” Executive Director Margot Evich said.
If handled incorrectly, the investigation process can be harmful to a child. “We provide a child friendly place for the family to come,” Evich said.
In addition to a coordinated response, the CAC provides advocacy services that provide support throughout process. “An advocate helps explain the process along with the way and makes sure they’re getting a medical exam done, getting into counseling,” Evich said.
The center has seen 35 new children this year and conducted 10 forensic interviews. In 2017, 28 children received treatment. Of the 14 forensic interviews in 2017, 10 of those children had disabilities. “That proves again, that kids with disabilities are at a higher risk of abuse and neglect,” Evick said.
There are currently 60 children in Tucker County receiving ongoing case reviews.
There is concern about a higher percentage of abuse in Randolph and Tucker counties. At the Randolph Tucker CAC, 32 percent of children disclosed sexual abuse. Of that 32 percent, 17 percent reported physical abuse, 11 percent disclosed drug endangerment.
The state percentage for child sexual abuse is 29 percent. Evich attributes the higher percentage for the area to a coordinated effort to help children disclose abuse. “I really feel like we have a good, coordinated response. I know abuse is happening everywhere, but it’s a matter of do parents know what to look for. Most kids still don’t disclose,” Evich said.
Studies show that abuse in any form is hard for the victim to disclose. Often, the community around the victim is integral in helping through the healing process. Signs of an abused child sometimes manifest in regressive behavior, fear of being alone with certain individuals, risk-taking behaviors, or over sexualized behavior.
School systems and teachers are critical to identifying abuse, because they often spend the most time with the kids. The CAC offers classes and workshops to help individuals identify abuse.
One of the CAC’s goals for 2018 is to focus on child sex trafficking. “We really want to become the expert in training our team in human trafficking, and getting the community more aware of child sex trafficking, and strengthening our team’s response to it,” Evich said.
The center is hosting a fundraising event called Champions for Children on April 20. The event will include musical entertainment, an auction, and a lasagna and meatball dinner. For more information, visit http://rtcac.org.