Tonight's special guest is Evelyn Mejil from Essex County, NJ, executive director of Wynona's House (www.wynonashouse.com) a Child Advocacy Center in Newark. The mission of Wynona's House is to promote justice and healing for child victims of abuse and violence by coordinating investigative, prosecution, treatment, and prevention services for children and families. The vision of Wynona's House is to create an community where children are safe, families, are strong, and victims become children again, by: 1) Reducing the number of times a child is interviewed during the investigation phase to a single interview conducted by a specially trained interviewer in a child-friendly environment, 2) Increasing successful prosecution through improved evidence collection, victim-witness advocacy, and partnerships with municipal law enforcement, 3) Promoting the research and development of innovative evidence-based behavioral health treatments for children and families, and 4) Strengthening the safety net for children through community outreach, education, and prevention efforts. Before they opened their doors, abused children in Essex County often had to tell their stories again and again -- repeatedly reliving the horror of their abuse. After disclosing what happened to their teacher, a child might have to repeat the details to the principal, school counselor, nurse, police officer, police sergeant, doctor, lawyer, and more. Research shows children would often have to retell what happened to them an average of 10-15 times to child welfare and law enforcement professionals located all over the county. This might take months or even years, and some children never received help at all.
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