ABOUT THE 1ST CHILD ADVOCACY CENTER SUMMIT
Wynona’s House successfully hosted its first Summit on April 7-8, 2014 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ with over 300 attendees. The event featured prominent state and federal officials, child advocates, and legal and medical professionals who spoke on the national epidemic that is child abuse and neglect, an issue that effects over six million child victims each year. The Summit was the first of its kind in New Jersey to create a national platform to raise awareness of the child abuse and neglect epidemic in our country, where no victim should be overlooked. The Summit educated the national community on the multidisciplinary team approach and the innovative and effective best practices of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) that address the prevention, investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse and neglect.
Keynote speaker Paul J. Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, addressed attendees on the number of children exposed to abuse and violence and the long-term impact this mistreatment has on child victims well into adulthood. Dr. Robert F. Anda, MD, MS, Co-Founder and Co-Principal Investigator of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, discussed the health, social, and economic risks that result from childhood trauma.
Other prominent speakers included State Senate President Steven Sweeney and Senator Cory Booker who touched on the urgent actions that must be taken to combat this silent epidemic and the importance of funding for Child Advocacy Centers, such as Wynona’s House, as a key part of achieving justice and healing for child victims of abuse and neglect so that they may one day be Invisible No More. Senator Sweeney addressed the lack of legislation mandating the implementation of CACs in the State, and pledged to work with experts to develop legislation that would reflect this need. Special remarks were also given by DCF Commissioner Allison Blake, National Children’s Alliance President Teresa Huizar, Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray, and a special presentation by First Assistant Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino on the highly publicized sexual assault case involving a young woman with mental delays and several high school athletes in the town of Glen Ridge, New Jersey.
Day 2 of the Summit featured nationally acclaimed experts and esteemed professionals in the disciplines of law, medical, mental health, and child protective services who presented on effective and comprehensive best practices in their respective fields relative to providing justice and healing for child victims of abuse and neglect. These educational workshops, in which attendees received professional credits, included such topics as: Child Abuse Prosecution, the Medical and Psychological Consequences of Neglect, the Multidisciplinary Team Response to Child Abuse & Neglect, Game-Based Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Child Sexual Abuse, How Children Cope with Violence, Child Trafficking, the Effective Use of Mental Health and Medical Testimony, and many more.
The Summit concluded with the 5th Annual Steel Magnolia Gala commemorating the champion and namesake of Wynona’s House, the late Senator Wynona Lipman. The Gala paid tribute to community members and institutions for their outstanding commitments and achievements for child victims of abuse and neglect. Honorees included Robert D. Laurino, Acting First Assistant Prosecutor of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and Founder of Wynona’s House; Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Founder & CEO of LaRuelist Group and Founder of Wynona’s House; and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.
Overall the Summit was a resounding success, bringing much needed attention to this often overlooked issue. The theme of the Summit, Invisible No More, expressed the message that our children must take precedence. No longer will we allow child victims of abuse and neglect to be overlooked, but instead bring these children to the forefront of our Nation’s greatest concerns.