The director and founder of A Child’s Place at Mercy, which provides expert forensic interviewing and medical exams to suspected child abuse victims, will present the 2014 Child Protective Services Award later this month to Kimberly Rogers, administrator of Washington County Children and Youth Services.
The ceremony is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. Friday, May 30, in the public meeting room of the Courthouse Square office building. Dr. Mary Carrasco will present the plaque, known as the “Above and Beyond” award, for the creation of A Child’s Place at Washington in Washington Hospital.
When it opened in January, A Child’s Place became the first satellite collaborative children’s advocacy center in Pennsylvania.
Rogers, a Greene County resident, has more than 20 years of experience in the child protective services field in Allegheny and Washington counties.
Child advocacy centers are designed to provide a safe environment where children can be interviewed about alleged maltreatment.
The center also provides a place where child welfare professionals, law enforcement officials, medical personnel and representatives of victim services programs can collaborate.
This type of coordinated approach is designed to lessen the trauma inflicted on a child by reducing the number of times he or she is interviewed, and it allows joint planning to determine the best course of legal action and support for a victim of child abuse.
Professional staff trained in the forensic interviewing of children and specialized medical examinations work there.
The importance of making child advocacy centers available to all children in Pennsylvania was part of a report issued by the Task Force on Child Protection, which was formed by the General Assembly following several high-profile child sexual abuse cases that occurred in Pennsylvania, most notoriously the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University.
The report recommended a child advocacy center be located within a two-hour drive of all children in Pennsylvania.
The local center was formerly known as “A Voice for Me” Child Advocacy Center of Washington, which closed in spring 2013.
Rogers, of Jefferson, an intake supervisor for the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families since 1998, came to work for Washington County CYS in October 2012.
Last week, the Washington County salary board approved the hiring of 10 additional caseworkers for the CYS office.
They are civil service positions, paying between $13.30 and $28 an hour, with salaries reimbursed by the state at 80 percent.
Law enforcement and child protective service professionals who have interacted with A Child’s Place at Mercy were eligible for the award.
The law enforcement recipient is Detective Sgt. Dawn Shane of the Rochester Borough (Beaver County) Police Department. She has been a child abuse investigator during the last 14 of her 21 years as a police officer.
Also being recognized is Kelly Rohrich of Presto, Collier Township, president and co-founder of the Operation Backpack Children’s Foundation, which supplies 100 backpacks a month to children who are placed into emergency foster care.
The backpacks are filled with personal hygiene and other essential items, as well as things that will bring comfort to children who have been removed from their homes for safety reasons.
Since its inception in 1995, Operation Backpack has started several local programs, including prevention and fundraising initiatives to help raise awareness about child abuse in the community.