Local child advocacy center hosting child abuse forum this month - East Idaho News

Local child advocacy center hosting child abuse forum this month

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RIGBY – The Upper Valley Child Advocacy Center in Rigby is partnering with the Idaho Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers for the first-ever local forum on child maltreatment.

The three-day event kicks off Sept. 21 at noon and will include a combination of in-person and virtual training for first responders, child advocacy professionals, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Eastern Idaho Public Health, mental health providers, educators and members of the community.

INCAC Director Amy McCormack tells EastIdahoNews.com the main purpose of the forum is to have a discussion about child abuse, provide training and instruction about each agency’s role in dealing with it, and how they can support each other.

“Coming from the child advocacy center standpoint, our number one (priority) is having the child tell their story just one time,” McCormack says. “We know the trauma (it causes) for the child to tell their story over and over again.”

The child advocacy center strives to accomplish that by having law enforcement listen to the live feed of the interview, McCormack says. The center also provides crisis counseling, education and emotional support to family members of the victim.

The seven accredited child advocacy centers throughout the state helped 2,539 children in 2019, McCormack says, and she is excited about the possibility of expanding their reach even more.

“We just received funding for two mobile child advocacy units. That’s going to take us from reaching 16% of the counties in Idaho to up to 57% of the counties,” says McCormack.

RELATED | Local child advocacy center expanding its reach with mobile services

The forum

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McCormack is among the list of speakers for the event and will be kicking off the forum by addressing some of these issues.

She will be followed by retired Detective Sgt. Jim Sears and Dr. Matt Cox, two of the state’s foremost experts on child abuse investigations.

Rigby Police Chief Sam Tower will kick off the second day of training. Danae Schoenborn with Eastern Idaho Public Health District will talk about BOTVIN life skills, a program that gives kids the skills they need to make healthy decisions. Andra Smith Hansen with QPR Suicide Prevention will also provide suicide assessment training.

Upper Valley Child Advocacy Executive Director Kimber Tower will then speak about meeting the needs of victims in the juvenile justice system.

“We’ve talked to some of those kids and their victimization is always more intense than what we see from kids who haven’t been through the correction system,” Tower says. “It’s not in the system they’re victimized, it’s prior to (getting there).”

Kimber says a lot of teen inmates are survivors of human trafficking.

Orange County, California Prosecuting Attorney Bradley Schoenleben will focus on human trafficking on day three of the forum. He will talk about the fundamentals of trafficking investigations and what it looks like in eastern Idaho.

RELATED | Local group raising awareness of human trafficking prevention with chalk art project

“We see (human trafficking) in the movies, but that isn’t what it looks like typically. When we see trafficking at the CAC, it’s usually on a much smaller scale. It’s parents trafficking their kids. It’s a boyfriend trafficking his girlfriend,” says Kimber Tower.

“Protecting our kids: Idaho’s forum on child maltreatment” is being funded by The Governor’s task force on Children at risk and the Juvenile Justice System. Organizers say it will become an annual event.

McCormack is inviting members of the community to attend to help begin the conversation.

“At the end of the day, this is about helping kids and this is one way that would help,” Kimber says. “We want everyone to understand this issue and help us keep kids safe.”

The forum will be held at The Venue at 142 East Main Street in Rigby. The first day will go from noon to 5 p.m. Days two and three will take place Sept. 22 and 23 and will go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. In-person attendance is limited to 50 people due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 19 seats left, as of Tuesday. Online registration is unlimited.

To register or learn more, click here.