Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center opened its doors in the year of 2000 in Morehead, Kentucky as a Children’s Advocacy Center. The center grew out of a community child sexual abuse task force made up of child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, mental health and medical communities who met regularly to define and refine professional roles in investigations and intervention in order to improve the system’s response to sexual abuse. Their efforts resulted in strong working relationships with clear investigative guidelines for an intervention system designed with the victim as its primary focus. Out of this task force a multi-disciplinary team was formed according to KRS 431.600 and 620.020 which mandates that all investigations of child sexual abuse be conducted by a specialized multi-disciplinary team.
Kentucky has prioritized development of Children’s Advocacy Centers and the center was added to the multidisciplinary team under KRS 431.600. Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Center (KACAC), a state association of Child Advocacy Centers was formed to provide regional centers with guidance and support. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center is a full member in good standing with the KACAC. In order to optimize services provided by the Children’s Advocacy Centers to maximize the spread of limited resources, a regionalized approach has been adopted for the funding of and development of these agencies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This planful, deliberate approach undertaken by the Governor’s office has allowed decisions regarding the funding of local programs to be undertaken on a statewide plan for funding. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center is the designated regional advocacy center for the FIVO district and provides a safe, client friendly environment to victims and their families for all aspects of sexual assault, including initial evidence collection, counseling, and court preparation. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center facilitates the coordination of services from multiple agencies for the common goal of victim treatment, victim advocacy, accurate evidence collection, public education, and prevention of sex crimes.
The medical doctors’ utilization of colposcope(high magnification photography) for evidence collection increases the likelihood of finding positive genital findings. With new legislation in 2001, Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center became Medicaid approved which mandated that each child receiving a medical exam have a mental health assessment prior to the exam. At present, Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center contracts with physicians, a mental health professional and employs the following staff: Executive Director, Medical Assistant, Family Advocate and a Forensic Interviewer.
Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center is a victim-focused, facility which provides a safe atmosphere for the victim, lessens trauma and promotes healing by maximizing services though a multidisciplinary team approach. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center actively seeks to reduce the occurrence of sexual assault and heighten awareness through the prevention of education. Our center provides a victim-friendly environment, designed to meet the needs of sexual assault victim, which include warmth, support and protection. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center is where all agencies can coordinate services for the common goal of prevention, intervention and accountability. Child sexual abuse is one of the most pervasive social problems faced by this society, its impact is profound because of the sheer frequency with which it occurs and because of the trauma brought to the lives of children and adults who have experienced this crime. Historically however, the sexual abuse of children was dismissed as a “family problem.”
The significant impact of childhood sexual abuse is unquestionable. This impact however, speaks not only to the individual child victim of the crime, but also to the mental health community. There is no longer a question of whether the child sexual abuse is a criminal justice problem, a social services problem, or a mental health problem, for its power pervades the territory of each. The question must now lie in the resolve of all professionals to overcome skepticism, with acknowledgment, disbelief with understanding, indifference and indigence, and reluctance to intervene with an unswayable intolerance of victimization of all children.
Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center’s goals are to protect child and adult victims of sexual abuse, from harm, to provide remedial counseling for victims and their families, to minimize further trauma, to protect society from offenders and to hold the offender accountable for his/her actions. Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center recognizes that effective child abuse intervention requires a cooperative effort between professionals in many agencies and disciplines.