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Our knowledgeable and experienced staff and members can be a valuable resource for stories covering child abuse intervention, prevention, and advocacy. For questions related to these important issues or to request an interview, please contact Executive Director Greg Collins at 304-917-4437 or g.collins@northstarcac.org. For guidelines on reporting child abuse, click here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 11, 2024

2023 WEST VIRGINIA CHILD ABUSE STATISTICS RELEASED

Today, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) released its Statewide Data for the 2023 fiscal year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023). The data in the report reflects service from West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) which provided official service to 46 of 55 counties in the state. A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where Child Protective Service (CPS), law enforcement, prosecutors, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal.

During fiscal year 2023, West Virginia CACs served 4,879 children, a nearly 10% increase in new children served in the last five years. Locally in 2023, North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC) saw 604 children in the calendar year, which is only 14 fewer children than 2022. This is the fourth year in a row that NSCAC has seen over 600 children in a single calendar year, and the first time they have seen a decrease in the number of children seen since 2018.

Some of the highlights from North Star’s report includes:

• 44% of the children served were there because of allegations of sexual abuse.
• 34% of the children served were there because of allegations of drug endangerment, compared to 14% statewide and only 3% nationally.
• 45% of the children served by CACs were between the ages of 7-12 years, 26% were between the ages of 0-6 years.
• 60% of the children seen were female. 40% were male. (Less than 1% were categorized as other)
• 90% of the alleged offenders were 18 years or older.
• 98% of alleged offenders were someone the child knew. 51% were parents, 12% were stepparents, 19% were other relative and 8% were a parents boyfriend/girlfriend.
• 48% of children are reported to have one or more disabilities as opposed to 30% statewide.
• 78% of the children interviewed disclosed abuse, with 22% not disclosing any abuse.
• 6% of the children received a medical exam.
• In 44 of the cases, criminal charges were filed, as opposed to 26 the year prior.
• There were 15 criminal indictments, as opposed to 3 the year prior.
• There were zero (0) offenders acquitted (declared not guilty.)
• There are approximately 22,487 children in the five-county area covered by NSCAC.

“In looking at both the state report and North Star’s numbers, its readily apparent that the role child advocacy centers play in the states mission to not only take care of our kids, but to assist the strained criminal justice system and overworked Child Protective Services is more important than it has ever been,” states Greg Collins, executive director of NSCAC. “Many people don’t realize that our center is not a “walk-in” facility. The forensic interviews we take come directly from law enforcement or CPS and are already in the investigative process,” continues Collins. “Another misconception is that all the children we interview disclose some type of abuse, when in fact, in the previous fiscal year, only 78% disclosed abuse. The forensic interview process is designed to be neutral and seek the child’s story without them being led to say one thing or another. It’s not an interrogation. The prosecutors get what they need to have a chance at a successful prosecution and the judges recognize and appreciate the neutrality in which they are done,” states Collins. “When I see that in 44 cases criminal charges were filed in 2023 as opposed to 26 the year prior, I know that what we are doing is working. We have great people in the five (5) counties we serve fighting harder than ever against child abuse, and it shows in this report,” concludes Collins.

Regarding the slight drop in the number of children seen in 2023, Collins states that is because of a multitude of factors. “It doesn’t mean there was a drop in child abuse cases. Keeping in mind that our cases come from CPS and law enforcement, there were times in 2023 where both struggled to keep up with their cases. High caseloads, low manpower and mental health fatigue of the people doing the daily work are both key in what we see coming in the door,” states Collins.

North Star led the states 20 other child advocacy centers in two notable categories. The first being the number of new children served at the center and the second being, once again, the number of forensic interviews conducted. “We are leading the state in workload with only five (5) forensic interviewers who are also cross trained as family advocates, and 2 ½ support staff to do the business and grants for the center to keep it all going,” states Collins. “I can’t say enough about the fortitude, dedication and heart of not only this staff, but of the men and women of law enforcement and CPS seeing this evil at the ground level daily,” concludes Collins.

Wood, Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties are officially served by North Star. Other counties are provided services as a courtesy for various reasons. Some do not have a CAC providing official service, some are cases that have been conflicted out of a certain county, some are just a matter of convenience and partnership within the West Virginia Child Abuse Network as North Star is the closest to the area of the investigation.

North Star is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is an important piece of the child investigation puzzle, as they are not only assisting law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors, they are focused on the child and non-offending family members and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star.

The report includes data on victim demographics, alleged offender demographics, reported vs. disclosed abuse, services performed, criminal justice response, and CAC income budget breakdown. The full statewide reports for WVCAN and North Star CAC can be found on our website, northstarcac.org under “About Us.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 10, 2024

Wes Bargeloh Donation to North Star Child Advocacy Center

“What I learned from being a child during the depression is that helping when you have the physical and financial means is one of life’s greatest blessings,” states Wes Bargeloh of Parkersburg. Bargeloh, a former educator at the high school and college level, recently donated $10,000.00 to North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC).

“I was out of town hunting and assistant director, Julie Nutter, began texting me saying she needed to tell me something and couldn’t contain herself,” states Greg Collins, executive director of NSCAC. “When she told me about the donation from Mr. Bargeloh, I nearly fell out of the tree I was in! I couldn’t believe it.”

Bargeloh became familiar with North Star in March of 2023 after seeing a television commercial. “I did recall having heard of ‘The Children’s Listening Place’ in conversations with others,” says Bargeloh. The commercial prompted Bargeloh to visit the center on Star Avenue which further inspired him to provide financial support. “What I learned upon visiting educated me as to their methods of operation. Their attention to caring for their young client’s personal welfare, from physical needs, medical care, emotional needs, and counseling, allowing the kids to recover from the trauma that they had experienced was all amazing. I was impressed with the professional employees and their dedication to the needs of their children and caregivers,” says Bargeloh.

“My background did not expose me to the level of trauma that North Star encounters,” says Bargeloh when discussing his reasons for helping. “I have two daughters that have worked in elementary and secondary education for a combined 60 years, and a wife that worked in elementary education for 20 plus years. They have spoken to me many times about the need for the type of service North Star provides,” states Bargeloh.

“Mr. Bargeloh has visited the center many times since his initial visit,” states Collins. “He came and spent time during the Holiday Open House, supported us during North Star Night Out bringing several friends to learn about us, and he always makes time to tell the staff they are doing a great job and reminds me to take good care of them,” continues Collins. “He is a blue-collar man that’s genuine and kind. A child who grew up on a dairy farm in Mineral Wells during some of the toughest times this country has ever seen. He was a popular college instructor to many students in the region. He is the kind of person who is always learning and analyzing. He saw us, he learned more about us, and he soon became a supporter of North Star,” concludes Collins.

Bargeloh concludes by saying he was fortunate to grow up in a home that always placed helping the less fortunate as a high priority. “This was done in many ways during the depression of ’28 to ’35, and it was not often financial assistance. On several occasions, it involved taking in those who had very little to survive on. I would encourage everyone to support any organization of your choosing. I found North Star Child Advocacy Center to be a very worthy organization.”

NSCAC performed 604 forensic interviews in 2023, once again leading the other 20 child advocacy centers in West Virginia, the fourth year in a row they have exceeded 600. The interviews come directly from law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services. The families or guardians are also provided with support for as long as they may need it.

NSCAC is nationally accredited by the National Children’s Alliance (NCA), the accrediting body for more than 900 child advocacy centers, with Chapters in all 50 states. According to NCA, an estimated 1,750 children died from abuse and neglect in the United States in 2020, the most recent year for which there is national data.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help or to request a tour of the facility. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star.

Picture: At the recent North Star Night Out, L-R, Wes Bargeloh, wife Sherry Bargeloh, Vicki Mueller, Karen Mitchell and Debby Matheny.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2023

Inaugural Gala Set for Saturday

Next Saturday the 16th from 6-9 p.m., North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC) will hold its inaugural gala at the Parkersburg Art Center called ‘North Star Night Out.’

With ticket sales officially ending at midnight this past Sunday, 190 people have registered for what executive director Greg Collins hopes will be the center’s signature annual event. “With the support growing for North Star tremendously over the past year, I knew we needed a signature annual event like so many other successful organizations,” says Collins. “It’s looking like we may have found it.”

As the planning went from the concept to the planning stages, the hope was to just get 100 people to come out and support NSCAC for the first one, with most of them being somewhat new to the cause. “We knew being an inaugural event it would expectedly have its challenges getting off the ground. What has transpired over the last two months has been nothing short of amazing,” states Collins.

Initially, planning for this inaugural event was helped along by Jessie Siefert and Laurel Sloane of the Parkersburg Art Center, which was chosen as the venue. The additions of Valley Catering, Wine Down on Market and Premiere Productions Entertainment throughout the process ensured the quality of the event would fit the bill. “We knew that regardless of how many people attended, it had to be quality, or no one would attend next year and there would be no good word-of-mouth praises so others would want to attend,” states Collins. “We definitely have some quality and knowledgeable support in these businesses, with quality at their forefront. We fully expect they all will be received very well by the attendees.”

As NSCAC approaches its ten-year anniversary in 2024, Collins wanted to do a video about the story of North Star CAC. After getting some suggestions, he went with Steve Spencer and Spencer Imageworks to film and produce the product. “Steve and I have been working on this since the middle of October. There have been numerous people interviewed for the piece and each of them had compelling information. Steve is disappointed that much of it will have to be cut out due to time constraints for the video, but that means the final product will be amazing,” states Collins. The video will be seen for the first time at the gala and will be used to send to potential funders upon request in the future. “People that contribute to you want to know who you are and what the needs of your organization are,” states Collins. “This video will tell our story in detail with class and professionalism,” says Collins.

Another obvious choice for the gala was to work our area’s children into the event. Children’s art from some of the various counties NSCAC serves officially has been created and is on display at the Art Center at this time and will be displayed through the end of the gala. “A silent auction is being done and some of the pieces are truly beautiful works of art,” says Della Matheny, NSCAC coordinator for the art projects. “We approached schools, art teachers and counselors and got some good response. Some projects came from very small children and are adorable. Some projects are from really legitimate talent and will amaze you,” concludes Matheny. People can stop in the Art Center now, even if not attending the gala, and view and bid on the art. All proceeds will go directly to NSCAC general operations.

A couple of guests will be present for the evening, one being NSCACs assistance dog CREIGHTON who is a favorite for all who have met her. Amanda Rubenstein, CREIGHTONs human partner, works for WV Department of Corrections and utilizes her at North Star through Paws4Prisons. “CREIGHTON visits the children at the center to provide joy and is also utilized when needed inside the interview room. When a child finds it difficult to talk about the issue in question, CREIGHTON will sit with them and let them pet her. Soon, the child will start disclosing the abuse, often never looking up from CREIGHTON,” states Collins. “What CREIGHTON does for my staff is undoubtedly just as valuable. They listen to the awful stories’ day after day and they frequently need the comfort and joy a dog like CREIGHTON can provide as well. Each time she comes through the door you can feel the air in the building get lighter,” states Collins. “The second visitor is a surprise guest and can only stop by if they’re not busy,” says Collins.

Music for the gala will be provided by pianists, Marie Mallory, and will feature the songs of the season. 15-year-old Francesca Sanders will perform several songs for the attendees as the focus on talented children in the MOV continues.

One of the last things will be the presentation of NSCACs first ever Shooting Star Awards. They will be given to those who have gone above and beyond in the fight against child abuse or have made a substantial impact on North Star itself in its mission. Abby Pifer, who is also helping coordinate the effort for NSCAC states, “Everyone who works in this field deserves an award, just by merely getting up every day and tackling the ugly issues that are ahead of them. Who we tried to focus on were the ones that exceeded and excelled in our mission. It was hard to narrow it down quite frankly, especially when it came to CPS,” states Pifer. In the end, we didn’t want it to be a popularity contest, we wanted it to be accurate and mean something,” concludes Pifer.

“We are very grateful for our signature sponsors Williamstown Bank and Conley Law Office. One signature sponsor wanted to remain anonymous,” states Collins. Others who are table sponsors are Wesley Bargeloh, KVC West Virginia, The Memorial Church of the Good Shepherd, Chad and Mercedes Nemesek and Stacy DeCicco. “Our sponsors mean we can keep more of the attendance money for our general operations and children’s programs. We are very appreciative to all of them for their graciousness,” states Collins.

Jack Horton with V96.9 FM and Brian Guthrie with CAS Cable provided free airing of the event, which was a key part in getting great results in ticket sales. “These two understand what we mean to our community and we thank them both,” concludes Collins.

North Star serves five counties, the most of any child advocacy center (CAC) in the state. It is also the busiest of the 20 other CACs in the state, seeing over 600 children each of the last three years. All referrals come from law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services only.

NSCAC is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding, even though it is a critical component in child crime investigations. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is focused solely on the child and non-offending family members or guardians and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help or to request a tour of the facility. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift.

More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 26, 2023

Divine Intervention

On October 26th, pastors from five area churches visited North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC) not only to take a tour, but to deliver a very special gift to the center.

At a recent nine (9) church revival, NSCAC was listed as a designated benefactor for the congregation’s offerings during that week. The result of their generosity was presented to Executive Director Greg Collins in the form of a check for $6,454.00, the largest one-time donation to the center since Collins began in his current position. “I was speechless,” says Collins. “When I heard they were collecting some of their offerings for us for a second time this year, I was excited to think we might see $1,000.00 or so. When Pastor Adam said what the amount of the check this time was, I didn’t think I heard him correctly,” states Collins. “How do you begin to thank, not only the pastors, but all of the people who gave during revival to make this happen.”

Some of the pastors have been to NSCAC before and have heard from Collins about what the center does daily, and how bad the stories of abuse can be at times. Because there were first time visitors, those pastors wanted them to hear it for themselves. They were also told about the successes of the center and their teammates in law enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS), and the fact that not all disclose abuse when there for a forensic interview. “The forensic interview means that LE or CPS has initiated an official investigation into the child and a forensic interview is needed to see if the child discloses any information about the allegations. LE and CPS make their decisions based off the outcome of the interview. North Star continues to support the child and their family or caregivers for as long as they need us,” says Collins.

Pastor Adam Hall of Faith Gospel Church states, “Ever since we first heard about the work being done at North Star, we have been passionate about supporting them with our different missions and offerings. Hall concluded by saying, “Jesus loved and valued the wellbeing of children and something like this donation is the least we can do.”

Faith Gospel parishioner Barb Gunsch was present for the presentation. She also coordinates the church’s monthly donations of requested supplies to NSCAC. “God worked through me about North Star,” Gunsch states. “We were looking for a place to donate to. I heard about North Star and took a tour. God changed my heart for our church to give. God works wonders,” concludes Gunsch.

At the end of the tour and talk by Collins, Pastor Daniel Ahart led the group in prayer for North Star, its staff and team, and the children that need to visit the center for services. “The message that our churches and their parishioners support North Star, and its mission means everything to us,” states Collins. “At one point, the group prayed that angels surround our center, I believe that has already happened,” concludes Collins.

Churches participating in the weeklong revival were Faith Gospel Church, New Life Baptist Church, Word of God Ministries Church, Southside Southern Baptist Church, Heart of Worship, 14th Avenue Gospel Mission Church, South Parkersburg United Methodist Church, Big Island Run Church and Drift Run Church.

North Star serves five counties, the most of any child advocacy center (CAC) in the state. It is also the busiest of the 20 other CACs in the state, seeing over 600 children each of the last three years. All referrals come from law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services, they are not a walk-in facility. So far in 2023, NSCAC has performed 500 forensic interviews.

NSCAC is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding, even though it is a critical component in child crime investigations. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is focused solely on the child and non-offending family members or guardians and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help or to request a tour of the facility. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star.

More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

Pictured:

Front Row: Greg Collins (NSCAC), Candice Gabriel (NSCAC), Natalie Tanner (NSCAC), Julie Nutter (NSCAC), Barb Gunsch (Faith Gospel Church), Della Matheny (NSCAC), Jen Hall (Faith Gospel Church), Alexa Barker (NSCAC)

Back Row: Tim Henson (Heart of Worship Church), Daniel Ahart (Work of God Ministries Church), Scott Stewart (New Life Baptist Church), David Sommerville (Southside Southern Baptist Church), Adam Hall (Faith Gospel Church), Jessica Beckham (NSCAC)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 6, 2023

North Star Bringing Statewide Conference to Parkersburg

On October 17th and 18th, North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC) will be holding its second annual training conference, with this years being held in Parkersburg.

Approximately 90 people from child advocacy centers, law enforcement, prosecutors, Child Protective Services, sexual assault medical examiners, and therapists from every corner of West Virginia will be at the Parkersburg Art Center to learn from some of the best speakers in the child investigation arena. One of the featured presentations will be by the actual investigation team involved in a case involving the death of an 8-year-old Fayette County, WV girl at the hands of abuse. “The purpose of these conferences has been to make our child crime specialists better at what they do,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director of NSCAC. “We want child investigators to analyze themselves and make sure they have done everything they can for that child and their family. If you have made mistakes or overlooked things you shouldn’t have, hold yourself accountable and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“North Star Child Advocacy Center has been an incredible member center and partner in the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network’s mission of working together to support hope, healing, and justice for children affected by abuse,” states Kate Flack, CEO of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN). “Their conference will bring nearly 100 multidisciplinary investigative and treatment professionals from North Star’s 5-county service footprint and from across the state for a two-day training on how to better respond when concerns of abuse arise. We are honored to sponsor this event and shine a spotlight on North Star’s commitment to the child advocacy center model as well as the beautiful city of Parkersburg.”

With last year’s first annual conference being held at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia, Collins wanted to bring this years to Wood County, showing off some of the great aspects of the area to others. “The Parkersburg Art Center is a beautiful venue, and once I spoke to Jessie and Laurel, it was an obvious choice for us,” states Collins. Parkersburg Art Center director Jessie Siefert adds to that stating, “The Parkersburg Art Center is more than a gallery, it serves as a community center. We offer educational outreach programs, classes and lovely art exhibits but we also love to partner with other area organizations, like North Star Child Advocacy Center, to help them host events and make those events works of art! These events help us bring more services to the community and support the operation of this 85-year-old institution.”

Another thought behind Collins’s move to Parkersburg was the positive financial impact North Star may be able to have on local businesses. “We really put effort into supporting those that support us,” states Collins. Being a good community partner is at the top of our priorities. Be it buying local or participation in an event, it’s important to us.” Mark Lewis, president and CEO of Greater Parkersburg CVB states, “The Convention and Visitors Bureau appreciates the economic impact that conferences have on our local economy. In addition to the financial benefit that is seen by hotels and the conference venue itself, attendees spend money at local restaurants, shops, and attractions. That spending adds to the overall economic health of our city and our region.”

“From our planned outing aboard the Valley Gem on night one of the conference, the WVCAN sponsored Unity Café breakfast refreshments, the informational packages provided by the Greater Parkersburg CVB and the assistance from our constant supporters at the Mid-Ohio Valley Transit Authority, this is shaping up to be an outstanding two days for all attending,” states Collins. “TownPlace Suites is booked up for the two days and they have been wonderful to work with. Everyone we have worked with has been great. I’m really looking forward to bringing this statewide conference to the MOV again next year,” concludes Collins.

North Star serves five counties, the most of any Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in the state. It is also the busiest of the 20 other CACs in the state, seeing over 600 children each of the last three years. All referrals come from law enforcement and/or Child Protective Services, they are not a walk-in facility. So far in 2023, NSCAC has performed 468 forensic interviews.

NSCAC is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is an important piece of the child investigation puzzle, as they are not only assisting law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors, they are focused on the child and non-offending family members and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help or to request a tour of the facility. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star.

More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 5, 2023

North Star Releases Half-Year Numbers

As of June 30th, North Star Child Advocacy Center has conducted 305 interviews thus far this 2023, on pace to exceed 600 for the fourth straight year.

With the numbers being similar to the past three years, the really bad cases this year have seemed to coalesce at times. “In January for example, the staff saw 64 children in the 20 workdays that occurred that month. Not only was the number of children high, but the stories the children were telling were horrific,” states Greg Collins, executive director of North Star. “It was an onslaught for the staff. One interview after another that was pure evil were coming through the door, it seemed relentless. For them to be composed and ready for the next child was a real challenge and a testiment to their fortitude,” says Collins. “I could see by their demeanor that it took all of February to completely recover.”

With the first three (3) months of 2023, North Star saw 162 children with the next two (2) months being slightly more moderate. June saw another high number with a total of 60 children and an elevated number of nine (9) medical exams.

Forensic interviews and family advocacy are only part of what the center does on a daily basis. Court appearances, therapy referrals, hospital calls, medical exams, court liaison appearances to support family and victims in court and transporting people to and from the center when it is needed are among the daily duties. Ultra detailed reporting and statistics are also a major part of the work because they are required to maintain the grants that help fund the daily operation of the center.

“I think the truly remarkable part of this is that all of this work gets done with just eight (8) people on staff,” states Collins. “Five (5) staff handle all of the cited work, one (1) is part-time to do the important task of statistics and reporting and two (2) of us handle all of the business, grants, etc. that comes with running a non-profit,” continues Collins. “The people that work here are some of the best you will find anywhere. I couldn’t be more proud of them and I will do everything I can to take care of each one of them,” concludes Collins.

North Star is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is an important piece of the child investigation puzzle, as they are not only assisting law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors, they are focused on the child and non-offending family members and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help or to request a tour of the facility. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star.

More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 16, 2023

WV Delegate Scot Heckert Makes Donation to North Star CAC

On Tuesday afternoon, Delegate Scot Heckert of Wood County presented a check to North Star Child Advocacy Center in the amount of $2,500.00. The money was allocated to assist the center with its general operations, in particular some upgrades the center is undertaking.

“Delegate Heckert approached me regarding the center’s needs and what he could do to help us while in Charleston,” says Greg Collins, executive director of North Star. “This wasn’t the first time he came to us offering his assistance. He has always been there for us and our communities’ kids, too many times to count. Mr. Heckert is a politician who has a platform to help us, but make no mistake, he’s no ordinary politician. He is an admired elder statesman of this community who is constantly looking for a way to make Wood County a better place to live and work. He says what he thinks, he does what he says he will do,” concludes Collins.

“I wish I could do more for them and the kids they help,” Heckert stated. “I want to do all I can to help the organizations in our community that are making a difference. Helping our abused children has to be at the top of that list,” concludes Heckert.

North Star serves five counties, the most of any Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in the state. It is also the busiest of the 20 other CACs in the state, seeing over 600 children each of the last three years, with that total being 618 in 2022. Wood County accounted for almost 75% of North Stars cases in 2022, and Collins says that percentage runs pretty consistent each year.

Wood, Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties are officially served by North Star. Other counties are provided services as a courtesy for various reasons. Some do not have a CAC providing official service, some are cases that have been conflicted out of a certain county, some are just a matter of convenience and partnership within the West Virginia Child Abuse Network as North Star is the closest to the area of the investigation.

North Star is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is an important piece of the child investigation puzzle, as they are not only assisting law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors, they are focused on the child and non-offending family members and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star. More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

The community can easily donate, either one-time, monthly or by rounding up a credit card to donate your change from purchases by texting “CHILDREN” to 26989.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 28, 2023

#High5Drive Results Announced at Williamstown Bank, 7th Street Branch

On Friday morning, the executive director of North Star Child Advocacy Center, Greg Collins, visited Williamstown Bank on 7th Street in Parkersburg to see how North Star faired locally in what was a statewide campaign by the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network known as the #High5Drive.

Last year, 4,703 brave WV kids walked through the doors of one of West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers following allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect. The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network asked all West Virginians to join the #High5Drive by donating $5 to give a High 5 to each one of those brave kids.

Here in Wood County at North Star, 618 kids were seen at the center in 2022, the highest number in the state. The goal was to get at least 618 hands to visually represent each of those brave kids and have the community write messages on them of hope and support. North Star’s numbers include children from not only Wood County, but Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties. Some children come to the center from other areas of the state as well when courtesy interviews for other centers or agencies are needed. However, 75% of the caseload they see is from Wood County/Parkersburg.

“This campaign was not about the money for us, as helpful as that will be. It was about the visual of seeing 618 hands displayed for each child we saw in 2022 that had an investigation taking place about possible neglect or abuse,” says Collins. “We want to lift the veil off child abuse here at home and have people see what law enforcement, Child Protective Services and North Star is doing every day. I want everyone to stop looking away because it’s uncomfortable. This is happening here and often pure evil. By our estimation backed by statewide statistics, we are only seeing 1/3 of what we should be,” concludes Collins.

Williamstown Bank and president/CEO Sharon Anderson stepped up to be the official site for the High5Drive, using their three branches to sell hands and promote awareness of child abuse. “When Greg called and asked us to do this for them, I knew we had the team to pull it off and couldn’t wait to get started,” states Anderson. “As we discussed the terrible things that North Star is seeing with our communities’ kids on a nearly daily basis, our employees became invested in helping make a difference in what is happening there. The employees at all three of our branches, the community and our friends at Kasasa and La Macchia Group made this campaign a success for North Star. I love what Williamstown Bank can do together as a team, and I love that they are truly interested in helping our abused children,” concludes Anderson.

At the announcement Friday morning, Williamstown Banks presented North Star CAC with $1880 in cash that was received by each of the three branches in in-person contributions. According to the #High5Drive website for North Star, they have accumulated a total of 723 hands purchased for a total of $3,615, with still two days remaining in the campaign.

“To Sharon and her executive staff, thank you. To the bank employees who did this in addition to their regular duties, thank you. To Kasasa, La Macchia Group and our community, thank you,” states Collins. “Seeing the messages that were written on the hands this morning was heartwarming and often emotional. I hope we can continue to educate people on all the child abuse that is occurring here and the frequency in which it happens. You can ignore it because it’s painful to think about, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening,” concludes Collins.

If you would still like to donate to this campaign, you can do so at https://high5drive.causevox.com/North-Star-CAC for the next two days. You can also visit northstarcac.org or text “CHILDREN” to 26989 for information on how you can help an abused child.

Pictured: L-R standing Kathleen Bell (WB), Shannon Vincent (WB), Greg Collins (NSCAC), Sharon Anderson (WB), Melissa Douglas (WB), Rebecca Judy (WB) and Kelly Allen (WB) Kneeling L-R Sommer Congleton and Rebekah Rowley.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2023

On Monday, the pastors from five area churches stopped in at North Star Child Advocacy Center to give them a very special gift.

Liberty Street Church, Heart of Worship Church, New Life Baptist Church, Faith Gospel Church and Word of God Ministries recently held a revival, with multiple collections being taken up for North Star CAC. The sum of those collections was presented to executive director Greg Collins in excess of $5,400.00, being the largest one-time donation he has seen since assuming the position in March of 2021. After all the donations that were generated from the revival were added up, some sent separately to North Star, an amazing $5,722.16 was received in all.

Pastor Adam Hall of Faith Gospel Church states, “In February, the five of us pastors had a meeting to discuss plans for a five-church revival to bring us together as a community. Part of that meeting was to discuss a mission that we could take up an offering for. We didn’t want to pay any singers, or have special evangelists come in. We wanted to be able to take the offerings and put them to good use, directly into our community. I suggested North Star to be the recipient of whatever funds were raised at the end of the week. I don’t know what I was expecting but those expectations were well exceeded by the outpouring of support from these five churches,” says Hall. “I don’t recall the exact amount, but somewhere in the neighborhood of $5700 was collected. We’re pleased to be able to partner with North Star Child Advocacy Center! I believe that through this week many eyes have been opened to the needs at North Star. I pray that our churches and community will begin to find ways to support this organization.”

“I was honestly floored when Pastor Adam Hall told me the amount they were presenting to us,” states Collins. “I had trouble finding the words to say thank you. It was such a blessing to us, not only in the amount presented, but the fact that these five churches wanted to collectively support our mission above all else,” continues Collins. “Churches have been such an integral form of support for us since I arrived here. It started out with a couple and has blossomed into numerous, covering all denominations. It’s such a natural fit and the support, in the way of money and supplies, has been so consistent. The children from the five counties we serve have been strengthened directly by all of these churches, and we are merely the conduit to do the work,” concludes Collins.

North Star assistant director Julie Nutter was asked at her church to present at the revival about what North Star does. “When I was asked to speak to the congregation about what we do here at the center, I knew I would feel right at home being in church,” states Nutter. “What I did not know was that there were going to be 170 people there! But that’s 170 people who may have otherwise, not known about what we do. I feel that speaking out about child abuse and bringing awareness to the topic is a vital part of solving the problem,” continues Nutter. “These five churches coming together to worship the Lord is awesome, but they went above and beyond to be a blessing to this small non-profit organization trying to make a huge difference in children’s lives. I don’t think they realize how big of a blessing they truly were.”

Pastor Scott Stewart of New Life Baptist Church, who was one of the presenters on Monday, stated, “Having Julie come and share this ministry with us in our 5 church ARISE service was eye opening to a tremendous opportunity for the churches in our area,” states Stewart. “The financial response in the offerings night after night was confirmation that God was in this. Having been educated to the number of children in our area that need a voice, I am convinced the church can be instrumental in a number of ways to be tools in the hand of God and part of the healing in the lives of these dear children,” concludes Stewart.

You may contact North Star at 304-917-4437 or via email nscac@northstarcac.org to learn more about how you can help. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to North Star. More information can be found at northstarcac.org.

The public is welcome and encouraged to schedule a tour of the center by calling Julie Nutter at 304-917-4437 ext. 110.

The community can easily donate, either one-time, monthly or by rounding up a credit card to donate your change from purchases by texting “CHILDREN” to 26989.

Pictured L-R: Joel, Mahalia and Eliana Frymire of Liberty Street Church, Tim Henson of Heart of Worship Church, Julie Nutter of North Star, Greg Collins of North Star, Adam Hall of Faith Gospel Church and Scott Stewart of New Life Baptist Church. Not pictured Daniel Ahart of Word of God Ministries.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2023

North Star Child Advocacy Center has released the number of services it provided in the calendar year 2022 by county.

“The numbers are a bit startling, but there are some other factors that could figure in as to why we are seeing the disparity,” states Greg Collins, executive director of North Star CAC. “Child abuse investigations conducted by our team in Wood County have the luxury of having numbers and resources that our outlying counties do not have. Wood County has over 150 law enforcement officers, several assistant prosecutors, victims advocates and 23 Child Protective Service workers. Our other counties have much smaller numbers in everyone of those areas. Wirt and Calhoun counties have only a few law enforcement officers and only one prosecutor each,” states Collins. “With that said, I absolutely don’t think that there aren’t abused children out there, but each counties ability to discover, investigate and if necessary prosecute child abuse is challenging to say the least. Per capita, I’m sure its every bit as high of a percentage in those counties. I know even with Wood Counties numbers, investigating these cases has all of our team members stretched thin,” concludes Collins.

North Star serves five counties, the most of any Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in the state. It is also the busiest of the 20 other CACs in the state, seeing over 600 children each of the last three years, with that total being 618 in 2022. Wood County accounted for almost 75% of North Stars cases in 2022, and Collins says that percentage runs pretty consistent each year.

Wood, Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties are officially served by North Star. Other counties served in 2022 were Tyler, Wetzel, Jackson, Washington (OH.), Braxton, Gilmer, Mason, Marion, Jefferson, Taylor, Ohio, Mercer and Raleigh. Other counties are provided services as a courtesy for various reasons. Some do not have a CAC providing official service, some are cases that have been conflicted out of a certain county, some are just a matter of convenience and partnership within the West Virginia Child Abuse Network as North Star is the closest to the area of the investigation.

North Star is a non-profit that does not have a consistent form of funding. The money the center uses to operate comes from federal and state grants, foundations and donations from the public. North Star is an important piece of the child investigation puzzle, as they are not only assisting law enforcement, CPS and prosecutors, they are focused on the child and non-offending family members and getting them the help and tools they need to heal and be a productive member of our community, for as long as they need it.

To donate to North Star Child Advocacy Center, you can go to northstarcac.org or you can text “CHILDREN” to 26989.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2023

#High5Drive Campaign Kicks Off for Brave WV Kids

On Monday, April 3rd, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) will kick off a new campaign to raise awareness and funds for the 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) across the state. #High5Drive asks individuals and businesses to give a High 5 and donate $5 for each child served at the West Virginia CAC last year. In fiscal year 2022, 4,703 brave WV kids walked through the doors of a CAC following allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect.

A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal.

North Star CAC is partnering with Williamstown Bank. The bank and each of its three branches are official campaign site partners where they’ll display the hands representing children served at our center. People can visit a Williamstown Bank branch to get their #High5Drive handprint and share a message of encouragement for these kids, or write their name, or the name of a loved one.

Williamstown Bank locations:

435 Highland Avenue
Williamstown, WV 26187
Phone (304) 375-6262

3002 E. Seventh St.
Parkersburg, WV 26101
Phone (304) 485-1717

1605 Harris Highway
Parkersburg, WV 26101 (Lubeck)
Phone (304) 973-1442

“We are so excited for the #High5Drive Campaign,” said Greg Collins, executive director of North Star. “It will be a great visual representation of the number of brave kids we served last year and showcase the community support for child survivors of abuse. We are so appreciative of Williamstown Bank for partnering with us for this venture.”

Sharon Anderson, President and CEO of Williamstown Bank stated, “Williamstown Bank is honored to support North Star CAC as the official location of the High 5 Campaign! Each of our offices will have hand prints available and we hope to help North Star meet their goal of 618 high five hands to represent each of the local children they served last year. These children represent our future generation, and we believe in the services North Star provides them in their time of need. We are proud to partner with Greg and his team at North Star and we greatly appreciate their service to our community.”

North Star CAC saw 618 kids in 2022, the most in the state, with a campaign goal of $3,090.00. Donations can be made through the Campaign website at https://high5drive.causevox.com/North-Star-CAC. All money raised locally will go to support the North Star Child Advocacy Center.

North Star is the largest CAC in West Virginia regarding the number of counties officially served (5), and the busiest CAC in West Virginia seeing over 600 new children in each of the past three years.

North Star CAC has no consistent source of funding. It is funded by grants, foundations, and donations only.

North Star is only one of three CACs in the state that provides medical services. Without our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-P,) a child must go at least one hour away to get a medical exam, being Bridgeport, Morgantown, or Charleston.

West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) provides statewide leadership in the fight against child abuse while working side-by-side with the 21 Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state. WVCAN provides training, technical assistance, leadership, legislative and policy advocacy, and overall coordination to Child Advocacy Centers around the state. A CAC is a child-friendly facility in which child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal. Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model coordinated the response around the child for an effective, child-centered, healing process. As the statewide authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, WVCAN’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

To donate to our #High5Drive Campaign, use the web address above or go to northstarcac.org and click on the “Donate” page and scroll to the bottom. To become a sustained giver, do a one-time donation or to round-up on your credit card purchases, you can also go to our website or text “CHILDREN” to 26989.

March 9, 2023
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

On Monday, March 6th, members of Faith Gospel Church (1228 Lost Pavement Road, Parkersburg/304-428-4252) were treated to an in-depth tour of North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC) and an Olive Garden lunch, to thank them for the past two years of staunch support for the center.

“Faith Gospel Church and the wonderful Ms. Barb Gunsch began calling us a couple years ago and asking us what we needed that month. Be it for the children we see everyday or merely for our center operations, an order is literally taken and the items show up at our front door a short time later,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director of NSCAC. “It’s like Amazon for us, but you don’t have to pay for the items,” laughs Collins.

Pastor Adam Hall explains further, stating, “I know for me personally; I didn’t even know this organization existed until I began pastoring at Faith Gospel Church in November last year. Our church began supporting North Star CAC about two years ago, at the suggestion of Barb Gunsch,” states Hall. “God has blessed us to be able to make monthly donations to the center, and Barb is faithful to make sure needs are met to the best of our ability. She calls at the beginning of every month to see what the needs are and does her best to make sure the needs are met. Whether it’s snacks, office supplies, backpacks, socks, pajamas, stuffed animals, toiletries, or journals, she makes it happen,” says Hall.

In 2022, from January 1 to December 31, NSCAC saw 618 children, the most of any other Child Advocacy Center in West Virginia. The children are referred to NSCAC by either Child Protective Services or law enforcement because they deemed an investigation necessary. Not all children disclose abuse, with a few cases found to be the coaching of the child by an adult, such as in the cases of child custody disputes. “Its about talking to the child the way they should be talked to, in a place that doesn’t make them feel like they are in trouble,” states Collins. “Finding out what is happening in that child’s life is what is important, and sometimes this staff finds out about other abuse taking place that no one knew about. We don’t have any involvement in taking children away from their families or getting applicable criminal charges filed. That is the job of CPS and law enforcement. We are here for that child, providing free services and continued help down the road,” states Collins.

Pastor Hall adds, “I’m disappointed. Not in my church. Not in my family. I’m disappointed that there is a need for an organization such as this. I’m heartbroken that there are people in this world, in our community, that are preying on our children. I realize that the world isn’t perfect. That not everything is sunshine and rainbows but, our kids shouldn’t be victims. But for the ones that are, North Star shines a light. Maybe a glimmer of hope, or a few minutes of refuge,” states Hall. “I’ve been through the office a few times, there’s a need. This agency isn’t one that has dedicated funding. They don’t bill someone’s insurance, they don’t charge a credit card, you can’t enter your PIN. They rely on grants and support from the community. At church, we call what we’re doing to support North Star CAC, an ‘outreach.’ It’s time for the community to reach out and support this organization,” concludes Hall.

“What Faith Gospel Church is doing for us is something that grants and foundations don’t normally cover, it’s not program related. It is allowing us to keep money in our coffers that is vital to us by making it so we don’t have to buy these items that we must have,” says Collins. “Regarding places of worship in our area and their involvement with NSCAC, Faith Gospel Church and Fairlawn Baptist Church’s help over the past couple of years has been nothing short of amazing. Other churches have periodically helped as well. When you walk through our front doors, and only then, do you truly understand why this place is so important,” concludes Collins.

North Star Child Advocacy Center is nationally accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and officially covers the counties of Wood, Wirt, Pleasants, Ritchie and Calhoun. You can help by texting “CHILDREN” to 26989 or by going to the website northstarcac.org.

Pictured from L-R standing: Sarah O’Neill (Westbrook), Della Matheny (NSCAC), Julie Nutter (NSCAC), Candice Gabriel (NSCAC), Alexa Barker (NSCAC), Jen Hall (FGC), Traci Welch (WSCC/NSCAC Intern), Sophia Hall (FGC)
Seated near side, R-L: Grace Williams (FGC), Barb Gunsch (FGC), Jeanie Sargent (FGC), Evelyn Hanley (FGC)
Seated far side, R-L: Dave Gant (FGC), Jim Williams (FGC), Pastor Adam Hall (FGC), Willow Hall (FGC)
Not Pictured: Lily Mace (FGC)

CONTACT:
Greg Collins, Executive Director
304.917.4437

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2023

The Children’s Listening Place (CLP) is now North Star Child Advocacy Center (NSCAC)!

The name change came after several months of research that was spurred by the common misconception of what the center is and what it does. “The most common thing I hear, nearly on a weekly basis, is that people believed we were a hearing center for children,” states Greg Collins, executive director of the newly named NSCAC. “People from within the community and from abroad had no idea what the name implied. We wanted to change it to be more self explanatory and excel the brand-building we are already doing,” states Collins.

The fund raising has also been adversely impacted says Collins. “When eventual donors or contributors to our center are encouraged to visit us by a supporter and they sit down in my office, one of the first things nearly all of them say is, I would have been here sooner but I didn’t know what you do,” states Collins. “At some point you have to worry that the name is causing you to miss out on some financial opportunities,” concludes Collins.

Although the official name change has been completed through the State of West Virginia and a large amount of the notification to key stake holders and vendors has taken place, there will still be notification and document changes over the next few months before it will be complete. Collins says that the new domain name has been purchased and website changes and new emails for staff is in process, but they will keep the old domain for a period of six (6) months and have all current CLP emails and web searches transferred to the new addresses to allow for a more smooth transistion.

Laurea Ellis, president of the NSCAC Board of Directors, says the name change was needed. “Changing the name to North Star Child Advocacy Center will increase the community’s level of awareness as to the purpose of the center and the services provided to children. I think the new name is very appropriate as they continue to protect and guide children, just as they have done since the center was established,” states Ellis. “There has been such great progress at the center over the last two years. The staff there is doing an amazing job. I am so proud to have been connected to this center from its humble beginnings,” concludes Ellis.

NSCAC has implemented a new donor platform in hopes of making it easier to support them, if desired. People can now text “CHILDREN” to 26989 or go to the website and click on the floating donate button.

CONTACT:
Greg Collins, Executive Director
304-917-4437
gregcollins@childrenslisteningplace.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 17, 2023

2022 WEST VIRGINIA CHILD ABUSE STATISTICS RELEASED

Parkersburg, WV — Today, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) released its Statewide Data for the 2022 fiscal year (July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022). The data in the report reflects service from West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) which provided official service to 45 of 55 counties in the state. A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal.

During this past fiscal year, CACs served 4,703 children – a 20% increase in new children served in the last five years. Locally, The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) saw 618 children during the calendar year (Jan. 1-Dec. 31), which is higher than last year, and the highest number of children seen since its inception in 2014.

Some of the highlights from CLP’s report includes (numbers are from grant year July 1, 2021-June 30, 2022):

• CLP has approximately 23,000 children in the five (5) counties they cover
• 37% of children had reports of drug endangerment, compared to 15% in other WV CACs
• 30% of children had reports of neglect, compared to 13% in other WV CACs
• CLP contributed nearly 13% of WVs 21 CAC service numbers
• 68% of the children who received a forensic interview disclosed abuse
• 33 children received medical evaluation
• Therapy/counseling was initiated for 67 children
• Criminal charges were filed in 26 of the cases, with 5 convicted
• Nine (9) WV CACs receive county funding, CLP does not
• Three (3) WV CACs receive municipal funding, CLP does not
• 2% of the alleged offenders were unknown, with the rest being parent (56%), stepparent (12%), other relative (13%), parent’s boyfriend/girlfriend (9%), or other known person (11%)

“Statistics are a big part of what we do here, but we know there can be some inconsistencies in the way they are tracked or entered. What we do know is that an extremely large percentage of the alleged offenders of our sexual and physical abuse cases are related to or at the least known by the child,” states Greg Collins, executive director of CLP. “Stranger Danger has always been prominent in our discussions with our children, when in fact, we need to be looking at the people that are around our children every day. Ask anyone in law enforcement who has worked child cases and they will tell you that the offender is often someone you would never expect,” says Collins. “As a responsible parent, you should be looking hard at those who are around your child, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. That is why offenders are so successful in committing this type of crime. So many of the parents or guardians I talk to after something happens to their child are asking themselves why they didn’t see it. Don’t put yourself in that situation,” concludes Collins.

The report includes data on victim demographics, alleged offender demographics, reported vs. disclosed abuse, services performed, criminal justice response, and CAC income budget breakdown. The full statewide data report can be found at https://wvcan.org/about/media/.

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit that interviews and advocates for children and non-offending family members of physical and sexual abuse, and severe neglect, all at no cost. CLP also interviews kids who are witnesses to major crimes. CLP then continues to provide services to that child for as long as it is requested.

CLP is the largest CAC in West Virginia regarding the number of counties, providing official service Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties. It is also the busiest CAC in West Virginia seeing over 600 new children in each of the past three years.

CLP is only one of three CACs in the state that provides medical services. Without CLPs Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-P,) a child must go at least one hour away to get a forensic medical exam, being Bridgeport, Morgantown or Charleston.

Below is the number of children seen at CLP since its formation in 2014 (calendar year numbers):
2014 = 54 2019 = 490
2015 = 184 2020 = 602
2016 = 256 2021 = 606
2017 = 391 2022 = 618
2018 = 346

West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) provides statewide leadership in the fight against child abuse while working side-by-side with the 21 Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state. WVCAN provides training, technical assistance, leadership, legislative and policy advocacy, and overall coordination to Child Advocacy Centers around the state. A CAC is a child-friendly facility in which child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal. Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model coordinated the response around the child for an effective, child-centered, healing process. As the statewide authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, WVCAN’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

This document was prepared under a grant from the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice & Community Services Section. Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State of West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice & Community Services Section or any entity of the Department of Justice.

January 12, 2023
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Officials from Peoples Bank stopped by The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) to deliver a grant award in the amount of $1,000.00. While there, they took a tour of the center and spent considerable time talking to staff about what CLP does for the children in five (5) counties.

“It was great spending time with them this morning. They were truly interested in the work we are doing,” states Greg Collins, executive director of CLP. “The support that Peoples Bank has given us in the two years I’ve been here has certainly been appreciated,” concludes Collins.

For more information on donating to CLP, please go to childrenslisteningplace.org or call the center at 304-917-4437. To donate, you can text “CHILDREN” to 26989.

Pictured: L-R
Jeremy Tefft, Branch Manager
Ashley Brown, VP Regional Manager
Jerod Richards, Branch Manager
Julie Nutter, Assistant Director CLP
Greg Collins, Executive Director CLP
Justin Young, Branch Manager

December 29, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Today, Sharon Anderson (President & CEO) and Kelly Allen (Senior VP) of Williamstown Bank were at The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) to present a $2,500 check to CLP staff member Alexa Barker, as the winner of the “These Are My People” contest.

Anderson and Allen spent two hours Thursday morning, not only presenting the check, but touring the center and talking to Executive Director Greg Collins and Barker about what the center does for the children of the region. “First of all, I’m very thankful to Alexa for being the kind of employee we strive to keep at CLP. Her work on this contest reflects very well, not only on CLP, but on her as a team player,” states Collins. “In a world where ‘it’s all about me’ it seems, she epitomizes the type of team member we want here and is an example of all the other staff members who are at CLP doing this important work every day. I love this group,” states Collins.

Collins said he was also very impressed with Anderson and Allen. “I’ve spent a lot of years in conversations with people where I am deciding whether they are genuine or merely playing an angle. I can tell you that these two meant everything they said and were passionate about helping people of this community. I learned as much as they did in our conversations I can assure you,” says Collins. “Everyone it the room today knew they had an obligation to take care of those who need help, and also take care of the people that are doing the work,” concludes Collins.

“I heard about the Kasasa “These are my people” contest through Facebook. While reading the rules and about the contest in general, I decided to enter and make my entry about the people I work with, and that I would donate the money to the Center if I won,” states Barker. “I spend most of my time with the girls I work with, and we hear some of the worst things imaginable coming from the mouth of an innocent child. We take these things in stride and really lean on each other at times to help these children and their families through their toughest days. I have never experienced a work environment such as the one here at the Children’s Listening Place. I work with the most selfless, caring individuals I have ever met, and I appreciate every single one of them,” continues Barker. “There are times when the children we serve don’t remember the last time they have eaten, and we buy them the first meal they have had in a while with our own money. There are times where one of my coworkers will buy a child a pair of shoes because they came to the center and don’t have any. With the money I won, I will be able to help my coworkers with the cost of these things. $2500 is a lot of money to a nonprofit and I know that by donating it to CLP, it will be put to good us,” states Barker. “Children are the sweetest blessings we have, and it is our job to help protect them,” concludes Barker.

“We are so excited to present this check to Alexa for her winning entry in our #TheseAreMyPeople contest. Our hope was to show how we as a locally owned bank help impact our community, along with providing an opportunity for people to connect with others this holiday season,” states Anderson. “To meet Alexa, and through her generous donation to the Children’s Listening Place, we were able to learn so much about the services they provide to our area. Their work in giving children from our region a place to safely disclose cases of abuse and neglect is admirable and their willingness to even use their own money in instances to feed a child who hasn’t eaten in days, buy shoes, or come in the middle of the night to do a forensic interview is heartwarming. It was an honor to present this check on behalf of Williamstown Bank and Kasasa knowing it will be used for such a wonderful purpose,” concludes Anderson.

Below is Barker’s winning entry:

These are my people. I could have chosen our official business photos, but I didn’t, because those aren’t who we are, they don’t capture the willingness to help and the love for the job that we all have. This picture from the FOP’s trunk or treat this year truly captures my team. You see I work at The Children’s Listening Place with everyone in this picture. We are a local nonprofit that provides forensic interviews and family advocacy to children that have been abused/neglected and non-offending family members. While our job can cause us to be pretty serious most of the time, you can always count on someone to be there for you, whether it’s a word of advice, a quick therapy session or a joke, they are always there. I’ve only been with the team for a few months now, but they have accepted me as one of their own since the beginning.
Each and every person in the picture is someone I know without a doubt is a kind and genuine person that I would trust my life with. I truly love each and every person I work with. I know a lot of people probably say that and don’t mean it, but I love my team members with my entire heart, and I am so incredibly thankful for being able to work with them. If we would win the money, it would go back into the center and help us buy things we need for the children and families that we serve. With us being a nonprofit, we rely solely on grants and donations to keep our doors open. While we have enough to get by, it is always nice to have extra just in case something happens. For example, sometimes we get children in that can’t tell us when their last meal was, and instead of using a company card, the staff will use their own money to buy them food. Sometimes we will get a child that does not have shoes and a staff member will run down to the dollar store to buy them shoes with their own money. I work with the most selfless, kind, caring and loving people in the world and I think they deserve to win this.

December 16, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) held its 2nd Annual Holiday Open House today from 10-3, with dozens of people stopping in to see what the center is all about.

“It was an amazing showing of people from all over the state today,” states Greg Collins, executive director of CLP. “I’m floored by the outpouring of support and genuine interest in what we do,” states Collins.

The morning was kicked off by a visit by Alexander Vaughn, the field representative for Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Vaughn sat down with Collins and Olivia Hubbard with the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) in Charleston, and they discussed how the Senator could help the Network. “Senator Capito is a supporter of CACs and has shown that in her votes and actions,” states Collins. “We certainly passed along our appreciation for all she does for us to Mr. Vaughn,” says Collins.

Dozens of community members passed through the center taking tours today including law enforcement, prosecutors, Child Protective Services, churches, and local businesses. Staff from two other CACs in West Virginia also made the trip to Parkersburg to visit, being from Beckley and Harrison County. “The intent of the open house was to get people into our center to see what it is all about, and we certainly have been able to do that,” states Collins. “Once you visit us and take a tour, it will occur to you that over 600 children are seen here each year for physical abuse, sexual abuse, and severe neglect. You start seeing the facial expressions changing with many people tearing up,” states Collins.

The day ended with a visit from Delegate Moore Capito, who is also running for governor of West Virginia in 2024. Delegate Capito was given a tour of the center and spent time talking with Collins and other CLP staff members about the work that is being done on behalf of children. “He spent substantial time asking questions and wanting to learn more about us,” states Collins.

“The food from Convicted Pigs BBQ was a big hit again this year, I can’t wait to this all over again next December,” says Collins. “There was a lot gained today in the way of donations, promises for continued support and the general knowledge of child abuse that was taken home by the visitors,” concludes Collins.

November 28, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

You may have noticed that our normally clean faced law enforcement officers have had a beard growing on their face during the month of November. No, the Wood County Sheriff and the Chief of Police of Vienna haven’t stopped paying attention, they have just teamed up to bring awareness to the sexual and physical child abuse that plagues our community, all the while attempting to raise the moral of their troops.

No-Shave November is an annual charity event where men don’t shave, groom, or cut their facial hair for the entire month of November as a way of raising awareness for a chosen charity. The most important part of No-Shave November, of course, is the charity aspect. Money that would normally go toward grooming activities like shaving gel, razors, haircuts, and so on is instead supposed to be donated to a chosen charity. If one is asked about their new facial hair, they are expected to explain why they are not shaving for the month, particularly as it relates to child abuse, for the purpose of spreading awareness.

No-Shave November was instituted somewhat differently by the two law enforcement leaders, in order fit their ideas of what would be appropriate for their officers to have the event. “I worked with both Chief Pifer and Sheriff Woodyard in the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force, I know that this wasn’t easy for them to agree to,” laughs Greg Collins, Executive Director of The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP). The officers of both departments were required to be well groomed rather than the usual refraining from any hair trimming, cutting, or grooming that is seen from No-Shave November. The second difference was the supporting of something that was critical and important in our community if it was going to be done. That’s where CLP and the awareness of child abuse in our county came in. “We come from a different generation of officers where you absolutely don’t have a beard in uniform. I think their desire to constantly improve the moral of their officers combined with the chance to support a non-profit that is fighting child abuse daily in our communities created the perfect timing for this to happen”, concludes Collins.

“I don’t think people are aware of how bad it is regarding child abuse in our area,” states Chief Mike Pifer of the Vienna Police Department. “The Children’s Listening Place sees more children in the course of a year than any other child advocacy center in the State of West Virginia, and 75% of their cases from a five-county area are in Wood County. Think about that for a minute,” continues Pifer. “This was an opportunity to address one of the biggest problems we face here and improve the moral of the officers that are going out and fighting for our community every day. It’s a win-win,” concludes Pifer.

CLP is a non-profit organization that interviews and advocates for children and non-offending family members of physical and sexual abuse, and severe neglect. CLP is a child and family friendly center. It’s a child’s alternative to sitting in a police department, Child Protective Services office, or an emergency room. All needed services are provided under one roof. Law enforcement and Child Protective Services come to CLP, and they work together as a team, conducting one interview, so the child is not revictimized by telling their story over and over. CLP then continues to provide services to that child for as long as it takes. Of the 21 other child advocacy centers in West Virginia, CLP is one of only three that provides in-house medical examinations for the child. Without this benefit, the child would have to be transported to Bridgeport, Morgantown, or Charleston to get the forensic medical exam.

As a non-profit organization with countless moving parts, CLP relies on the help of others to support this mission – restoring lives of children who have been abused. All operating money comes from grants, foundations, and donations.

Contributions will provide developmentally appropriate, non-leading forensic interviews, therapy sessions that help children begin to heal, hours for our advocates to make sure families are safe and supported through their crisis, and medical exams and supplies.

“This is one of the worst crimes that is happening in Wood County,” states Sheriff Rick Woodyard of the Wood County Sheriffs Office. “Its time to be more proactive and start attacking child crimes. These are the future adults of our community,” adds Woodyard. “CLP sees over 600 kids a year and they are some of the worst stories you can imagine. We had an opportunity here to raise the moral of the deputies and show CLP we see the work you are doing and its very important,” concludes Woodyard.

Today, because of the funds raised by officers for No-Shave November, the Vienna Police Department gave CLP $610.00, and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office presented them with $410.00. “To have these two law enforcement agencies saying we believe in what you are doing, and that child abuse can’t be tolerated in Wood County is very empowering. We appreciate both agencies for what they have done for us. They get it,” states Collins.

Picture: Members of the Vienna Police Department and the Wood County Sheriff’s Office present checks to CLP Executive Director Greg Collins.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 16, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director

A local business owner wants to bring awareness for a non-profit organization where he serves as a member of the Board of Directors.

Chad Nemesek, owner of several area McDonalds restaurants, has donated $2,000 to The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP). “Every Friday, I get an email from the executive director outlining the activities of the center each week. Quite frankly, they are painful to read sometimes,” states Nemesek. “What the CLP staff is doing for these kids that are being physically and sexually abused truly inspires me. The number of children they are seeing with a relatively small number of staff is incredible. I wasn’t aware of CLP myself until I visited them after it was suggested I should. I saw what they do, I believe in what they do, and I think everyone should know what they do and who they help. I want to be a part of the solution,” concludes Nemesek.

CLP interviews and advocates for children and non-offending family members of physical and sexual abuse, and severe neglect. They also interview kids who are witnesses to major crimes. CLP is a child and family friendly center. It’s a child’s alternative to sitting in a police department, Child Protective Services office, or an emergency room. CLP provides all the needed services under one roof, including medical. Law enforcement and Child Protective Services come to CLP, and they work together as a team, conducting one interview, so the child is not revictimized by telling their story over and over. CLP will then continue to provide services to that child for as long as it takes.

There are currently 21 Child Advocacy Centers in WV, officially covering 45 of its 55 counties. CLP serves more counties and more children yearly than any other CAC in the state. CLP officially serves Wood, Wirt, Pleasants, Ritchie, and Calhoun Counties.

“To have a board member show that they wholeheartedly believe in what you are doing is the best endorsement you can have,” states Greg Collins, executive director of CLP. “Mr. Nemesek has voiced frustration with the fact that many of our community members are unaware of what is happening to our children and what CLP is doing daily to fight for them. He is saying I believe in CLP, I believe in the mission, and he is backing up his words with action. You can’t ask for better as a director,” says Collins. “We have a really great board of directors and are looking for a couple more people that will be a good fit,” concludes Collins.

All of the services provided by CLP are at no cost to the family or caregivers. Other services provided by CLP are court liaison, court testimony, transportation to and from the center, assistance dog, backpacks for each child, food/drinks for their visit to the center with the option to receive a hot meal.

CLP has seen over 600 children per year in 2020 and 2021. They have provided interviews, advocacy, and other needed services to 549 children so far in 2022.

Nemesek offered a final request to other local business owners and community members, “I would ask you to donate what you can to CLP. It’s a fantastic non-profit organization doing work that is heart breaking yet invaluable to us as a community.”

You may contact CLP at 304-917-4437 or via email at clp@childrenslisteningplace.com to learn more about how you can help. You may also contact the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) to leave an endowment or a legacy gift to CLP. Information can be found at childrenslisteningplace.org.

The public is welcome to schedule a tour of the center or visit during this year’s Holiday Open House on Friday, December 16th from 10-3.

November 16, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) held the judging of its 2nd Annual Turkey Hand contest today.

Starting in October, CLP begins having children who visit the center for services draw their best turkey hand. This year’s prize for the best turkey hand was a giant stuffed Teddy Bear.

CLP Board of Directors member, Brady Whipkey of WVU-P, brought his wife and two kids to the center to do the voting. After what was a very thoughtful process, the turkey hands were reduced to just two. “When Autumn and Avery couldn’t make a pick between the last two, mom April stepped in to make the final decision,” states Greg Collins, executive director of CLP. “Everyone at CLP loves seeing all of the entries as they come in. There are all great pictures,” concludes Collins.

This year’s winner is a 16-year-old girl who has visited the center. “It’s great that we can do fun stuff like this for the kids, and the staff quite frankly. CLP really tries to be a place where they feel comfortable telling their story. This isn’t CPS or a police station, and these aren’t investigators they have to talk to with this system,” states Collins. “And that is the whole idea behind the creation of Child Advocacy Centers,” adds Collins.

The winning turkey hand will be proudly displayed on the wall of CLP until next year’s winner is picked.

Pictures:

Standing: Brady, Autumn, Avery, and April Whipkey
Seated: Autumn, April, Avery Whipkey with CLP staff member Alexa Barker looking on
The winning turkey hand picture
The prize Teddy Bear

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 27, 2022
From: Greg Collins, Executive Director

A staunch supporter for helping the abused children of the Mid-Ohio Valley, DuPont Washington Works was at The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) today to drop off snacks and drinks collected by their employees for the children and families that CLP serves.

“Snacks and drinks are one of the things we provide when a child and their non-offending family or guardian comes to our center, and the cost associated with the purchase of those items can get high. Kids often come to us hungry and are always excited to see so many tasty snacks here just for them,” says Greg Collins, Executive Director of CLP. “We have kids that eat their weight in snacks because they are so hungry. We are very fortunate to have partners like DuPont and our local churches that make that this nearly a non-factor in our budgeting,” concludes Collins.

This is the second time in Collins’ tenure that DuPont Washington Works employees have heard about the snack and drink need and began a collection drive for CLP. “We are so fortunate to have a CLP Ambassador working for DuPont in Darliss Eichhorn,” states Collins. “Darliss is always watching out for us and when she tells DuPont we have a need, their employees come together in strong fashion to help us.”

Dupont has also been very generous with financial donations to support CLP, especially in the past two years. “Since I have been here, DuPont Washington Works has come through with more than $8,500 in cash assistance to the center,” states Collins. “The most recent was a $2,500 donation to help CLP pay for nationally recognized speakers for our recent statewide conference at Stonewall Resort,” says Collins. “Our conference was a huge success in large part because of what DuPont allowed us to do regarding quality instruction. There were people there from every corner of West Virginia, and it was amazing to be able to help each of them help our physically and sexually abused kids a little more,” concludes Collins.

“DuPont Washington Works employees are integral parts of our outreach efforts and enjoy being able to make a difference in our community,” states Washington Works Plant Manager John Kovaleski. “DuPont Washington Works employees and the site give annually more than $200,000 through employee donations as part of our United Way Community Fund program and throughout the year to non-profit organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley. We have employees that serve as board members and volunteers to many organizations where they can help those groups make an impact in our community.” Adds Kovaleski. “With the upcoming sale of DuPont to the Celanese Corporation, we will look different, but we will be the same workforce, the same community members, the same people that care about this valley and always have. We are determined to find additional ways to help The Children’s Listening Place in the future, because what they are doing for our community is that important and we can’t not help our kids,” concludes Kovaleski.

CLP Ambassador and DuPont employee Darliss Eichhorn states, “I have such a big heart for the work that The Children’s Listening Place does to help abused children. It’s an absolute honor and privilege to do something to help a non-profit organization that helps our community the way they do! When Washington Works employees became aware that the CLP once again had a need for additional help, the donations began pouring in. I’m grateful to work with such giving people,” concludes Eichhorn.

CLP has served over 600 physically and sexually abused children in our area over each of the last two years at no cost to them. As of today, CLP has seen 509 children in 2022, on pace to meet or exceed that number once again. CLP is only one of three Child Advocacy Centers in West Virginia to provide a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination for the child. If CLP didn’t have the medical service, a child would have to travel to Bridgeport, Morgantown, or Charleston for the forensic medical examination. CLP officially serves Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Pleasants, and Calhoun Counties, with 77% percent of the cases between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022, coming from Wood County.

If you would like to help CLP, please contact the center at 304-917-4437 or toll free at 833-245-4437. Greg Collins can be emailed at gregcollins@childrenslisteningplace.com.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2022
Greg Collins, Executive Director

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center (CLP) has released its number of Forensic Interviews at its center from July 2021 through the end of June 2022, as well as the number of Forensic Interviews in each of the five (5) counties it serves officially.

During the 12 months stated, CLP conducted 603 Forensic interviews at its Parkersburg location for law enforcement and Child Protective Services (CPS). When a child appears for an interview, that child and their non-offending family members or guardians receive assistance and services that sometimes last for years, all at no charge. “The range of help a child may receive from us isn’t just the interview itself, it’s also in the form of a forensic medical examination or wellness check, mental health assistance and therapy”, states Greg Collins, Executive Director of CLP. “It’s about getting that child back to as close to a normal life as we can. After you, as a little one, have been physically or sexually abused, back to normal has a different meaning for everyone,” says Collins.

The current efforts of local law enforcement to enhance their own capabilities of investigating child crimes prompted the report. “Sheriff Woodyard has had numerous conversations with me about how we can do a better job for our kids, together,” says Collins. With the current manpower crisis that is occurring in both law enforcement and CPS, some things that are being discussed are a new way of operating for this area. “A multi-jurisdictional task force and retired law enforcement investigators just for child cases are a few of the things that are being floated. CLP would be able to subsidize their manpower issues by doing the interviews and advocacy so they can concentrate on the investigation itself,” states Collins. “As a retired child crimes detective and former commander of the Parkersburg Narcotics Task Force, I can tell you that child crimes are as prevalent as narcotics cases in our neighborhoods and every bit as damaging. It will require that same type of team effort from law enforcement to begin seeing positive results,” continues Collins.

CLP is one of 22 Child Advocacy Centers (CAC) in West Virginia. CLP serves more counties and sees more children than any other CAC in the state. CLP has helped CPS and law enforcement with over 600 children in each of the last two years. CLP is totally funded by grants, foundations, and donations, but is seeking annual assistance from the counties and cities it serves because of the current federal grant instability.

Anyone who would like to help The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center can visit their website at childrenslisteningplace.org or call Executive Director Greg Collins anytime at 304-917-4437.

Attached: Pie chart showing each counties number.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 12, 2022

Greg Collins, Executive Director

CALHOUN COUNTY EXPANSION

At the March 4th West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) Board of Directors meeting, The Children’s Listening Place, Inc. (CLP) Child Advocacy Center’s application to provide official service to Calhoun County was unanimously approved.

This is the fifth county that is officially served by CLP, making it the largest Child Advocacy Center (CAC), in terms of number of counties served, in West Virginia.  “After providing Calhoun County with courtesy services for a few years, it became apparent that we needed to provide the full array of services we provide to the children of Calhoun County,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director of CLP.  CLP has added a staff member to its center to make this logistically possible.  “The addition is part-time and covered by a grant from Sisters of St. Joseph Health Foundation as of now.  We will apply for a grant from Encova this Spring which would cover the position for three years, and if granted, we will go full-time with it July 1.  Our federal and state grants will always pay for the position in-part,” states Collins.  “All staff members are working together to make this expansion effort a success.”

CLP began Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) meetings in Calhoun in January of this year.  These meeting are held monthly, led by the prosecutor of that county, and include CPS, law enforcement, medical, mental health, school officials and other treatment professionals with the goal of holding offenders accountable and facilitating healing for the child.  Calhoun County Prosecutor Nigel Jeffries has been instrumental in bringing services to Calhoun County.  “He walked into my office one day last fall and said I don’t need sold on it, I’ve talked to several people in Calhoun, and I want to make this happen as soon as possible,” says Collins.  “He has truly been somebody who I believe will do it the right way for the right reasons,” says Collins of Jeffries.

is a child-friendly facility with staff that works to provide children and families professional, compassionate care in order to reduce the trauma often experienced by children that are victims of abuse. Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model brings the system to the child for one effective interview and a child-centered, healing process.  “We really concentrate on not revictimizing the child by asking them to tell their story more than once.  Its traumatizing enough on them anyway.  Having to tell your story to multiple people, multiple times, is causing the child to relive the ordeal over and over,” states Collins.

With the number of forensic interviews for CLP hovering around 600 the last two years, the decision to expand service to Calhoun County wasn’t taken lightly.  “We are the busiest CAC of the 21 CACs in West Virginia, and we do much more than just interview.  It was looked at in detail, by our staff and the board of directors, and the decision was made to move forward.  Quite frankly, its because of the amazing CLP staff that made this decision for me.  If we couldn’t do quality work for Calhoun, I didn’t want to take it on.  With this staff, there’s no doubt that will happen,” states Collins.

According to WVCAN, 45 counties in West Virginia are now provided official service by a CAC, and they are providing some courtesy services to the counties without official service.  WVCAN is striving to close all the current gaps in CAC coverage, where no child in West Virginia will be more than one hour away from a child friendly WVCAN member facility, and every center will have the equal access to the support services WVCAN provides as centers work to increase their capacity to help more children and families in need.  “We are excited that our Network’s official service footprint is expanding to the 45th county, bringing us that much closer to our goal of full state coverage,” states Kate Flack, Chief Executive Officer of the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network. “Now, children impacted by abuse in Calhoun County will receive support from the outstanding team at the Children’s Listening Place to heal from trauma, find hope, and seek justice.”

**As a note, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) provides statewide leadership in the fight against child abuse while working side-by-side with the 21 Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state. WVCAN provides training, technical assistance, leadership, legislative and policy advocacy, and overall coordination to Child Advocacy Centers around the state. A CAC is a child-friendly facility in which child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal. Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model brings the system to the child for an effective, child-centered, healing process. As the statewide authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, WVCAN’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated, and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 1, 2022
Greg Collins, Executive Director

After eight (8) months, the addition of transportation for clients of The Children’s Listening Place (CLP) Child Advocacy Center is making a big impact on the center’s ability to serve the region.

A 2021 Chrysler passenger van was purchased on June 24, 2021, with the help of the Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation in Wheeling and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF) in Parkersburg, to help children and their family get CLP services when they have no transportation. Since the purchase of the van, 22 families, for a total of 52 people have taken advantage of the transportation assistance, which is provided at no cost by CLP.

The CLP van has been used for transporting children and family/guardians to the center for forensic interviews, medical examinations, and advocacy. It’s also been used by staff to participate in Multidisciplinary Team meetings in each county we serve, trainings, and visits to other Child Advocacy Centers to learn how CLP can better serve our community. “Getting clients to CLP for service, no matter where they live or how much they have, is truly a good feeling. Not having transportation is not a reason for children and families not to get service for physical or sexual abuse, it’s just not,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director of The Children’s Listening Place. “The number of people provided transportation for, in all likelihood, would not have been able to get our help without the addition of the van.”

CLP financial savings on mileage reimbursement to staff has been tremendous. “The mileage our staff was incurring using their own personal vehicles was substantial. Considering we have to cover Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Pleasants and Calhoun Counties, not accounting for mandatory training, the mileage can add up quickly,” states Collins.

The van has fortunately not been needed for transport of a child for a sexual assault examination to either Clarksburg, Morgantown, or Charleston, because of the constant availability of CLP’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Amber Holbert. It is, however, available if the need ever arises. “Because CCMC does not currently provide SANE examinations, our kids would have to go to a hospital that does provide that service if our SANE was not available. This would be a one or two-hour trip one-way,” says Collins. “Many of our families don’t have the ability to make that trip on their own.”

With the number of children seen at The Children’s Listening Place rising to 600 in each of the last two years, CLP’s mission is to provide access to their full array of services to all of the children in Wood, Wirt, Ritchie, Pleasants, and Calhoun Counties, so they can heal and be heard.

January 10, 2022

2021 WEST VIRGINIA CHILD ABUSE STATISTICS RELEASED

Today, the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) released its Statewide Data for the 2021 fiscal year. The data in the report reflects service from West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) which provided official service to 44 of 55 counties in the state. A CAC provides a safe, child-friendly facility where child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal.

To ensure that every child had access to needed resources and support during this time, West Virginia’s 21 Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) remained open. During this past fiscal year, CACs served 4,604 children – a 40% increase in new children served in the last five years. Locally, The Children’s Listening Place (CLP) saw 606 children in calendar year 2021.  For comparison purposes, CLP saw 598 children in 2020 and 485 children in 2019.

Some of the highlights from The Children’s Listening Place report includes:

  • 47% of the children served were because of allegations of sexual abuse
  • 28% of the children served were six years old or younger
  • 98% of alleged offenders were someone the child knew

“We are the busiest CAC in West Virginia, serving Wood, Wirt, Pleasants and Ritchie.  Calhoun County is well into the process of being served officially by CLP,” said Greg Collins, Executive Director of CLP.  “The stories that children tell our staff would bring a lesser person to their knees.  The need for CAC services is growing rapidly throughout this country, the need for those services here is critical.  Without us, I’m certain kids would be lost in a system that is already struggling to keep up with the demand,” states Collins.  “These cases will continue to come, and The Children’s Listening Place plans to be here for the next 100 years to handle them all.  All children will be safe, families strengthened, victims healed, and offenders held accountable,” Collins concluded.

The report includes data on victim demographics, alleged offender demographics, reported vs. disclosed abuse, services performed, criminal justice response, and CAC income budget breakdown.

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit that interviews and advocates for children and non-offending family members of physical and sexual abuse, and severe neglect.  We also interview kids who are witnesses to major crimes.  The Children’s Listening Place is a kid friendly and family friendly center.  It’s a child’s alternative to sitting in a police department, Child Protective Services office, or an emergency room.  We provide all the needed services, including medical, under one roof.  Law enforcement and Child Protective Services come to us, and we work together as a team, doing one interview, so the child is not revictimized by telling their story over and over.

To donate to The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center, please call the center at 304-917-4437, go to our website, or email the Executive Director at gregcollins@childrenslisteningplace.com.

West Virginia Child Advocacy Network (WVCAN) provides statewide leadership in the fight against child abuse while working side-by-side with the 21 Child Advocacy Centers throughout the state. WVCAN provides training, technical assistance, leadership, legislative and policy advocacy, and overall coordination to Child Advocacy Centers around the state. A CAC is a child-friendly facility in which child protection, criminal justice, and child treatment professionals work together to investigate abuse, hold offenders accountable, and help children heal. Rather than having a child taken from agency to agency to endure multiple interviews, the CAC model coordinated the response around the child for an effective, child-centered, healing process. As the statewide authority on multidisciplinary approaches to supporting child victims of abuse, WVCAN’s purpose is to empower local communities to provide comprehensive, coordinated, and compassionate services to victims of child abuse.

 This document was prepared under a grant from the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice & Community Services Section. Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State of West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice & Community Services Section or any entity of the Department of Justice.

 Attachment:

The attached bar graph represents the number of children served by CLP since opening in 2014.  The numbers are as follows:

2014 = 54

2015 = 183

2016 = 248

2017 = 384

2018 = 334

2019 = 485

2020 = 598

2021 = 606

For Immediate Release

December 20, 2021

“The Children’s Listening Place 1st Annual Holiday Open House was a big success, with visitors coming from all around to see where the good work for kids takes place,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director.

The Open House started at 10 a.m. with a prompt visit by Mike Browning, the Outreach Manager from Senator Joe Manchin’s office.  “What a great visit by a wonderful person.  He expressed his genuine interest in what we do here on behalf of the Senator,” stated Collins.  “It’s nice to know our center is on the radar of one of the most important people in West Virginia and Washington,” Collins continued.  Browning also sent regards on behalf of Senator Capito’s office.

Other visitors included child abuse team members from the Wood County Sheriff’s Office and Confinement Operations, Vienna Police Department, Williamstown Police Department, Harmony Mental Health, Family Crisis Intervention Center, Coplin Clinic, Wood County Child Protective Services, Wood County Youth Services, and the Pleasants County Prosecutors Office.  Some other visitors included CLP board members, local churches, and staff family.  “Seeing the Wood County Sheriff and the chiefs of Vienna and Williamstown police departments come through the door today let me know they want to be part of the solution,” Collins said.

The food was provided in part by Convicted Pigs BBQ, and owner, Trooper Chris Jackson.  “The food was a big hit with all attending,” states Collins.  “Some of it was donated by Chris for our Open House.”

The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center is a non-profit with no main source of funding that interviews and advocates for children and non-offending family members of physical and sexual abuse, and severe neglect, serving the counties of Wood, Ritchie, Wirt, Pleasants, and Calhoun.  CLP also interviews kids who are witnesses to major crimes.  The Children’s Listening Place is a kid friendly and family friendly center.  It’s a child’s alternative to sitting in a police department, Child Protective Services office, or an emergency room.  CLP provides all the needed services under one roof.  “Law enforcement and Child Protective Services come to us, and we work together as a team, doing one interview, so the child is not revictimized by telling their story over and over,” says Collins.  “This is one of the hardest things a child will ever do, to trust in someone and tell their awful story to a stranger,” states Collins.

There are 21 Child Advocacy Center’s in WV.  Last year, the centers combined, conducted 4,167 forensic interviews, therapy to 1,281 children, and 644 medical exams to children throughout the state.

For Immediate Release

October 27, 2021

 The Children’s Listening Place Receives Groups Inaugural Donation.

On October 21st, after all on-line donations were processed, The Children’s Listening Place (CLP) Child Advocacy Center received a gift of $4,325.00 from a new force of philanthropy in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

100+ Women Who Care in the MOV was founded in 2021 by Jessica Huffman, Danielle Allphin, Angie Reich, and Megan Thieman.  “We are so proud of the work The Children’s Listening Place does. They were very deserving of the donations and beyond monetary impact, we hope the event created more awareness about their organization and the heroic work they do every day,” states Jessica Huffman, founding member.

At what was the groups inaugural meeting held at the Parkersburg Country Club thanks to some local sponsors, three non-profits were selected to speak about their individual organizations.  Selected to present were Kim Couch of the Camden Clark Foundation: Pink Mammogram Fund, Greg Collins of The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center, and Brandon Gress of The Wood County Society.  At the end of the presentations, the members voted and selected The Children’s Listening Place as the benefactor of the donations.  “To speak in front of this powerful group of women who care so much about this valley was truly inspiring.  To be the first organization selected by this group was humbling.  To just be on the stage with the likes of Kim Couch and Brandon Gress was all we really needed,” stated Greg Collins, Executive Director of the CLP.  “To receive the money was fantastic, but the real reward was the recognition of what we do for kids, the networking of that evening, and the calls and emails that have come since that night of people wanting to donate to us,” stated Collins.  “To get to listen to what other non-profits do to help our community is amazing.  Non-profits are problem solvers, it’s just that simple,” concluded Collins.

100+ Women Who Care initially formed in November of 2006 by Karen Dunigan of Jackson, MI.  At their first one-hour meeting, that founding group of 100 women raised $10,000 to buy 300 new baby cribs for an organization in their city.  Chapters are now forming all over North America.  “Our organization allows busy women the opportunity to spend just one hour learning about the direct impact of three non-profit organizations in our community and the invaluable role they play in our community’s wellbeing. When our group of women meets to donate together, the collective philanthropy makes a big difference to the winning organization and the people they serve. All the money stays local, which was a really important factor to us. Our founding board members were all born and raised in this community, and we deeply care about the future success of the people in the Mid-Ohio Valley,” states Huffman.

100+ Women Who Care in the MOV hopes to grow their membership to over 100 women.  Each member agrees to donate $100 quarterly for a total of $400 per year, meaning the donation each quarter would be $10,000 or more.  100+ Women Who Care in the MOV does not handle any of the funds or does not retain a percentage.  All proceeds go directly to a charity via checks made out directly to the winning charity(s).  Each quarterly meeting is only one-hour long, with presentation of non-profits being 10 minutes max.  “As a busy professional woman in the workforce and mom of six, I have felt a yearning toward wanting to do more for our community but had trouble finding the time to volunteer or join a local non-profit board. Sending money from what I could afford alone didn’t seem like it would make a difference. I am delighted to have formed this new group and so thankful for the volunteer board that made our first event a success,” concluded Huffman.

For more information about joining 100+ Women Who Care in the MOV, please see their website at 100womenmov.com, contact Jessica Huffman at 100womenmov@gmail.com, or call her at 304-615-4506.

To donate to The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center, please call the center at 304-917-4437 or email the Executive Director at gregcollins@childrenslisteningplace.com.

Pictured left to right: Jessica Huffman, Danielle Allphin, Greg Collins, Megan Thieman, and Angie Reich.

August 10, 2021

From:  Greg Collins, Executive Director

For Immediate Release

The Children’s Listening Place (CLP) Child Advocacy Center (CAC) is getting new toys for its kids and upgrading its donation storage ability thanks to a long-time community partner and one passionate CLP board member.

Today, Dupont Washington Works donated $3,000 to CLP for the upgrades and its employees collected hundreds of dollars and enough snacks for the children and families to last for the near future.  Darliss Eichhorn, SAP Financial Analyst/Contract Administration for DuPont and CLP board member spearheaded the operation.  “I’ve visited several CAC’s, including a model CAC in Sarasota, Florida, to see how we can best operate and serve our region.  A consistent I have found is you must have a good board of directors that works and supports your center.  I think this effort by Darliss epitomizes that need,” states Greg Collins, Executive Director of CLP.

“DuPont Washington Works has active community outreach efforts to make a positive impact on our community.  Our employees are integral parts of our outreach efforts and enjoy being able to make a difference in our community,” states Darliss Eichhorn.

Eichhorn continues by stating, “DuPont Washington Works employees and the site give annually more than $200,000 through employee donations as part of our United Way Community Fund program and throughout the year to non-profit organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley.  We have employees that serve as board members and volunteers to many organizations where they can help those groups make an impact in our community.”

Some of the items that have been ordered for CLP already thanks to the donation are a changing table, bilingual story books, diversity and kindness story books, a children’s art desk, and fidget and sensory toys for children with Autism or Asperger’s.  “Of course, we also ordered your more traditional toys for boys and girls such as cars and trucks, doctors play sets, tool sets and the center’s most popular, a kitchen play set among other items,” says Collins.

Eichhorn states, “I have a heart for the work that The Children’s Listening Place does to help children.  One of my true passions in life is helping children.  It’s such an honor to do work for an agency that helps our community!  We are proud to provide funding with this $3,000 check for The Children’s Listening Place to upgrade the toys in the center and provide donation storage capabilities.  When Washington Works employees became aware that the CLP had a need for additional help, we began a collection drive for snacks and drinks for the children and families that the CLP serves.  We have collected boxes of snacks and drinks that will be delivered to CLP for their use to serve children and their families.”

The CLP is a non-profit organization serving the children of Wood, Wirt, Pleasants, and Ritchie Counties.  CLP also does courtesy interviews for Calhoun and Gilmer Counties on a regular basis, and a host of other counties periodically.  “If there is an allegation of child abuse, child neglect, or sexual abuse, in any of these counties, they come through our doors.  Our operations are funded totally by donations and grants.  There is no money coming in on a regular basis from the city, county, or state.  That’s what makes this organization amazing to me, and that’s why partnerships and donations from our community, like this one from DuPont, are so important.  We have to continue to build these partnerships, so the center is here for the kids 50-years down the road,” states Collins.  “We led the other 21 CAC’s in West Virginia last year in forensic interviews with over 600.  The next closest center had 437 interviews.  Our work increased in 2020 22% from the totals in 2019, and we are on pace right now to exceed last year’s number.  We conduct the forensic interviews, advocacy, medical examinations, and therapy on-site in a child friendly setting.  During my law enforcement career, I’ve spoken to many adults who are still suffering from the effects of the evil that was done to them as a child.  CLP does everything it can, for as long as needed, to give that child a chance at a normal, productive life,” Collins concludes.