HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Their footprint continues to grow around the world. The National Children’s Advocacy Center is now lending its expertise to help combat child abuse in Latin America.
It’s a safe haven for victims in Huntsville/Madison County, and now the NCAC has a new partnership with another foreign country.
It's allowing their work and their model to grow even more on an international scale.
On Tuesday, NCAC executive director Chris Newlin announced a partnership with UNICEF Ecuador. It’s providing expert training for psychologists, prosecutors and judges working with child abuse victims there.
“We are now being asked to work throughout the world in providing training and technical assistance much like we did here beginning here in 1985 in our community,” Newlin said.
Last year, NCAC did training and analysis in Ecuador. This year, they're helping officials revolutionize the nation's response to child abuse.
“Children in Ecuador are being revictimized by a system that should be there to care for them and as result, it’s causing further harm to them. They want to improve their response so we’ve been training them on how to interview children regarding allegations of abuse. We’ve been working with them to change policies and protocols on how they work with these cases and manage them to emulate more on what’s being done here in the US and in more than 30 countries around the world who have implemented this child advocacy center model,” Newlin explained.
In July and August, 43 psychologists in Quito, Ecuador attended forensic interviewing of children training led by Linda Cordisco Steele, M.Ed., LPC who serves as the curriculum chair and senior trainer at NCAC. Likewise, NCAC executive director Chris Newlin, MS, LPC provided training to 41 prosecutors in Quito on the role of a prosecutor in the forensic interview process within the framework of a Multidisciplinary Team Model (MDT).
Newlin will return to Ecuador later in August to provide the same trainings to psychologists and prosecutors in the city of Guayaquil. In September, Newlin will return to Ecuador to provide training and consultation for judges regarding Best Interests of the Child in Judicial Decisions & Judicial Interpretation.
In addition, while in Ecuador in July, Newlin met with UNICEF Ecuador and government representatives to discuss the process to implement countrywide policy changes to improve the multidisciplinary response to child abuse allegations in a child-centered manner, modeling their interventions after the approach developed by the NCAC. These meetings resulted in discussion about future opportunities for training and consultation in Ecuador and throughout Latin America.
The NCAC has previously provided training in multiple Latin American countries.
“All this international work we do helps expand the protection of children and it also helps support what we’re doing here locally because we don’t use any of our own dollars to support this international work. It’s funded by others who want us to be there who are paying for all of our time and effort to help improve their systems,” Newlin stated.
NCAC’s model has proven to be effective and efficient.
“We have better outcomes and we can do it at a cheaper cost because it’s about the elimination of duplication of government. so streamlining that process so kids get the services they need in an efficient way, helps government and helps kids and helps reduce this issue in society,” Newlin added.
NCAC is also taking care of children in Madison County, doing forensic interviews, therapy, and medical exams as they continue to have an impact internationally.
“It’s a proud day for Huntsville and Madison County that we protect the world in lots of ways with missile defense and other kinds of technology but we also do it in the protection of children,” Newlin said.
The National Children’s Advocacy Center started in 1985 to respond to the issue of child abuse in Huntsville/Madison County with an innovative program that brings together multiple disciplines. Their model has been used throughout the US and more than 30 counties, serving hundreds of thousands of children related to allegations of sexual abuse, severe physical or sexual exploitation.
The approach calls for a child friendly, safe environment for the child and family where the child can be interviewed, examined, and counseled. It is also the place where authorities can coordinate, discuss, and investigate child abuse cases, limiting the number of times a child must tell their story and in turn prevents more trauma for the child and allows the child and caregivers to access a full range of support and health services.
The NCAC Training Center provides training for child abuse professionals through online trainings, technical assistance, resources, such as CALiOTM (Child Abuse Library Online), in-person trainings in Huntsville, including the annual International Symposium on Child Abuse, and customized trainings all over the United States and throughout the world.
The NCAC offers International trainings including: The MDT Response to Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Multidisciplinary Team Development, Forensic Interviewing of Children utilizing the internationally-recognized NCAC Child Forensic Interview Structure, and more. To date, in 2018, the NCAC Training Center has trained more than 13,600 child maltreatment professionals, with ten more in-person trainings scheduled before year’s end.
Newlin says the mission is all about ensuring access to justice for children.
“It’s a great honor to be able to share this model and people around the world are beginning to know Huntsville for a lot more than just missiles,” he added. “We’re also doing a lot of other training in other parts of the world. We want to continue to help support the protection of children not just in Huntsville/Madison County, not just in the United States but throughout the world.”