On January 28th at the evening Queen Anne’s County (QAC) Commissioners Meeting, QAC Commissioners, The Child Abuse Response & Evaluation Center (CARE) and Character Counts! part of the QAC Local Management Board, Community Partnerships for Families and Children… Proclaimed The Month of February will represent the “Pillar of Respect”. Lance Richardson the QAC’s State’s Attorney, Cindy Olah a Forensic Interviewer for QAC DSS, and Sgt. Bruce Layton the Criminal Investigations Supervisor for QAC Sherriff’s Office; all representatives of the many partners of the QAC CARE Center were in attendance for the Proclamation.
In September 2011, the CARE Center was formally established through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between QAC Department of Social Services, Offices of the Sheriff and State’s Attorney, Maryland State Police and Centreville Police Department. The CARE Center coordinates the multi-disciplinary response to suspected child maltreatment by increasing communication and collaboration among professional agencies involved in the investigative, medical, mental health, and judicial handling of child maltreatment.
The CARE Center is a family-friendly and child-focused environment with a goal to interview children in a non-intrusive manner. Previously, children suspected of being abused in Queen Anne’s County were required to relate the circumstances of their abuse to at least six different agencies involved in the investigation. As a result, the children were traumatized twice- once by the abuser and again by the requirement to repeat their story multiple times to the very system trying to help. The team realized the fragmented process did not offer the support and services children and families required to begin the journey toward healing. Those involved feel that the CARE Center gives the children back the Respect that they so often lose through the abuse and had lost with past procedures. Therefore, it is appropriate that the CARE Center participated in the Proclamation; designating February as the “Month of Respect”.
“The CARE Center interview process is about putting the child first and getting Respect back for them; utilizing a child friendly environment and practices by certified Social Workers. The Centers ability to supply proper referrals to mental health and medical facilities is also imperative to a child’s successful healing.” – Cindy Olah- Forensic Interviewer, CARE Center & QAC DSS
“The CARE Center is instrumental in streamlining the once lengthy dehumanizing process. The crime of child abuse is so traumatic and dehumanizing to the child and giving them Respect is important in assisting them to get their dignity back, which is a priority of the CARE Center. They are also able to gain more information through this process, leading to a higher plea vs. trial rate -keeping children safe faster.”- Lance Richardson, QAC State’s Attorney
“The CARE Center enables multiple investigators to direct questions through one person in a Respectful way by asking concise appropriate questions that gain accurate pertinent information to better prosecute offenders and to encourage other possible victims to come forward.” – Sgt. Bruce Layton, QAC Sheriff’s Office
The CARE Center is located at 204 N. Commerce Street in Centreville, for additional information about the CARE Center go to www.qaccare.org or call 410-758-2533.
The Character Counts! Program is a national effort to increase character education by offering resources, training, and information about the Six Pillars of Character – Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. For the past twelve years in Queen Anne’s County, character coaches have been visiting local classrooms to share lessons on the Commissioner proclaimed “Pillar of the Month”.
During the month of February, character coaches are focusing their lessons on Respect and the importance of Respecting oneself as well as Respecting others. The variety of lesson plans are endless, as some coaches read stories, discuss current events, or design hypothetical scenarios for the class to work through.
We are currently recruiting Character Coaches and Mentors for QAC Public Schools. To become a Character Coach or Mentor or for additional questions, please contact the character coach and mentor coordinator, Jacki Carter, at 410-758-6677 or email@example.com.