Helping traumatized children and teens in the community

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MONTROSE, SUSQUEHANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A local non-profit organization is helping young people cope who have witnessed a homicide.

The courthouse in Susquehanna County is where homicides are prosecuted. But it’s another site in Montrose which helps children who’ve witnessed those deadly, violent acts.

The program created a simulation of a woman interviewing a teenager who witnessed her brother’s homicide.

The interview is happening at Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna and Wyoming Counties which is a program of Family Service Association of NEPA.

A hidden camera on the wall of the interview room allows law enforcement and child protective services to observe in a completely different room of the facility.

“A forensic interview is about giving a child an opportunity to tell their entire story in as much detail as possible because it helps the investigation of whatever crime it might be, in this case a murder or a homicide,” said Janine Fortney, the Director of Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties.

But the interview accomplishes much more than that. According to the CAC Director, it helps ease a heavy burden.

“It’s okay to talk about all of the deep and dark parts of it that they might have otherwise felt shameful about,” stated Fortney.

CAC also prepares the young witness for what’s about to happen in the coming days and months.

“Children are often required to testify in a court proceeding so we will help to make sure that they get the resources with a victim advocate from one of the teams that we work with,” said Fortney.

Besides providing advocacy throughout the homicide prosecution, a trauma therapist will work with the child to help she or he with the healing process.

“It is really important that they have something comprehensive and something that’s going to give them the support that they need,” stated Fortney.

It’s certainly a team approach to help young witnesses of homicide.

CAC also serves children who’ve experienced physical and sexual abuse and other neglect.
The non-profit also has community outreach and education programs.

Head to Children’s Advocacy Center of Susquehanna & Wyoming Counties, to learn more about the services provided.

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