By Mark Ambrogi
The Cherish Center, a division of Advocates for Children and Families, has achieved an important new status.
The Cherish Center, based in Riverview Health campus in Noblesville, has received the National Children’s Alliance associate membership status after empowering the community to serve child victims of abuse.
“The National Children’s Alliance is the only accrediting agency for all child advocates centers nationally,” said Wendy Haberstock, executive director of AFCF and The Cherish Center. “So it’s a pretty big deal.”
The Cherish Center is the only associate member CAC in Hamilton County and one of just six in the state.
To receive associate level, CACs must apply and meet the standards set by the NCA. These standards ensure that child abuse victims throughout the nation receive effective, efficient and compassionate services. A few of these standards include representation of a multi-disciplinary team, quality of forensic interviews, and offering of victim advocacy services. Associate membership is the second-highest level of membership with the NCA.
“Our next step is to be fully accredited which takes about a year to go through that process,” said Haberstock, a Fishers resident. “That just means we are doing all the things that nationally they say are the best practices, all the things that a full-service CAC would do. It’s been quite an accomplishment for our team and our community here to have that.”
The Cherish Center, which was incorporated in August 2009, conducts an average of 350 interviews each year with their comprehensive forensic interviewing process.
“Whenever there is allegation of child abuse, physical or sexual abuse, no matter by state statute, Department of Family and Child has to determine the investigation for it, even if a police officer is witness to it,” Haberstock said. “A forensic interview is supposed to be done so a child can come to one place to be able to talk about what has happened and talks with a trained forensic interviewer that works with children versus talking with a police officer or someone else. We do that process here for Hamilton County and some of the surrounding counties. All of those entities work with us. The prosecutor’s office, the Department of Family and Child and all of law enforcement will be present when we’re here doing their interviews so they can get their information in a timely matter. So the child (doesn’t have to be interviewed four or five times), and they don’t have to do it at the police department where feel intimidated or they are in trouble when they’re not.”
The Cherish Center in an independent nonprofit. For more, visit afcfindiana.org.