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Hospital adding child advocacy center for victims of abuse

By: Jackalyn Kovac and WJAC Web Staff

SOMERSET, Pa. -- One county is in the process of creating a child advocacy center for children who may be victims of abuse.

The center will be located in the Somerset hospital and is slated to open in June.

The space for state police can be used to provide forensic interviews and support for any child dealing with physical or sexual abuse.

"Right now when kids come in and they go through a difficult time in the emergency room, it can be scary," said Somerset Hospital vice president Michele Beener. "This center will allow different resources and not only resource[s] to get them through criminal examinations or forensic assessment, but also on the back end having victim services here in the same location. Strategically placed quietly down the hall for us is just fantastic and we're really happy to be a part of it."

The space is currently empty, but students from the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown's Phi Sigma Sigma sorority stepped up to help community leaders give the facility a fresh look.

"They are nice and bright and cheerful so we know that they will be good for whoever is using the room," said Phi Sigma Sigma Vice President Stephanie Root. "It will definitely bring some happiness and joy, and were really having a lot of fun doing it."

The space will eventually have furniture to provide more of a comfortable atmosphere, and plenty of technology for police and different agencies working together to fight child abuse.

"That was one of the reasons for the child advocacy center, so that we can have everything in one place," said Pennsylvania State Police trooper Edward Thomas. "The multiple agencies that are involved can all be right here at the same time and the child doesn't have to keep coming back for all the different things for the investigation."

Community leaders hope that the facility will be able to comfort those who are victims.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times