FOR THE CHILDREN
JOHNSON COUNTY – It’s unusual when 18 people unanimously agree to anything, much less the representatives of 18 law enforcement, social service agencies and county prosecutors. The exception is when it comes to assisting the Children’s Advocacy Center of Johnson County in its efforts to help a child who is the victim of sexual or severe physical abuse or was a witness to violent crime.
Representatives of those agencies assembled July 12 at the Cleburne Conference Center to review and update protocols based on recent legislative changes.
“The biggest change is that our multidisciplinary team agreed most child victims should be brought to us for forensic interviews,” CAC Executive Director Tammy King said. “Before our new protocol, we felt that some child victims of abuse were not making it to us. Now, in most cases, they will be.”
Prior to the new agreement, if a child victim of alleged abuse was interviewed in the presence of a family member by representatives of Child Protective Services and law enforcement, and the child did not make an outcry of sexual abuse, the child was not taken to the CAC, King said.
Now, the child will not be screened in the field unless both CPS and law enforcement agree.
“If one (CPS or law enforcement) disagrees, the child is brought to us,” King said.
A child may not be willing to tell what abuse took place, especially if still at the scene or in the presence of the alleged perpetrator, King said.
At the CAC, however, the child has access to myriad professional services, such as individual therapy, trauma assessment, therapy dogs, family therapy and a child-friendly atmosphere, King said.
Representatives from the multidisciplinary team who signed the protocol agreement were Alvarado Police Chief Brad Anderson, Burleson Police Chief Billy Cordell, CASA of Johnson County Director Nancy McClure, CPS Regional Director George Cannata, Cleburne Police Chief Rob Severance, Cook Children’s Medical Center President Nancy Cychol, Godley Police Chief Jason Jordan, Grandview Police Chief David Henley, Johnson County Attorney Bill Moore, Johnson County District Attorney Dale Hanna, Johnson County Juvenile Services Director Cristy Malott, Johnson County Sheriff Adam King, Joshua Police Chief Shuan Short, Keene Police Interim Chief Don Beeson, Mansfield Police Chief Tracy Aaron, Rio Vista Police Chief David Niederhaus, Texas Department of Public Safety District Director Ramona Black, TxDPS District Director Kerri Fowler, TxDPS Program Director Stephanie Williams and Venus Police Chief Michael Boese.