About Vision of Hope
The Vision of Hope Fund supports the work of PCAR. Funds raised will enable PCAR to invest resources where they are needed most — to educate communities, support rape crisis programs, conduct research, and to create new and effective prevention strategies.
PCAR established the Vision of Hope Fund in 2005 with former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge to raise private funds to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse. Since then, we have raised more than $1 million largely through contributions to PCAR’s annual Vision of Hope Gala. We have invested Vision of Hope dollars in critical research, effective prevention strategies and promoting adult responsibility and accountability to prevent child sexual abuse.
This great success inspired PCAR’s board of directors to broaden the scope of the Vision of Hope Fund in 2015 to support all of PCAR’s activities toward our mission to end sexual violence in all of its forms and advocate for the rights and need of victims of sexual assault.
All dollars raised prior to January 1, 2015 will be used specifically for child sexual abuse prevention, just as the donors intended. Additionally, proceeds from the Vision of Hope Gala will continue to support child sexual abuse prevention exclusively.
After January 1, 2015, donors may designate gifts to support any of PCAR’s activities to promote help, hope and healing for people of all ages around issues of sexual violence. Proceeds from the Vision of Hope Gala will continue to support our child sexual abuse prevention grant activities.
Ending sexual violence cannot be done with government funding alone. Achieving a world free of sexual violence requires the participation of individual people, communities, companies, civic groups, religious institutions and you. PCAR is acting now to make the world a safe place, and we need your help — you are part of our Vision of Hope!
PCAR has a proud history, and plans for a bright future. With you as our partner, PCAR will continue to lead the way to a future free of sexual violence.
Give the gift of HOPE. Sexual violence can be prevented! Your gift to the Vision of Hope Fund will support PCAR's important work to create a world free of sexual violence.
Give the gift of HELP to keep professionals in health care, law enforcement, social service, education, the courts and the military ready and able to respond when help is needed.
Give the gift of HEALING to help us heal the trauma of sexual assault.
Like you, PCAR wants children to feel safe, happy and loved. Like you, PCAR wants women and men to live full lives without the fear of being harmed or harassed in their homes, offices or neighborhoods. And like you, PCAR wants to help heal men, women and children who have been abused. For nearly 40 years PCAR has been doing this work, and today, we need you to join us to continue this tradition of providing help, hope and healing.
Vision of Hope Gala
When the Vision of Hope Fund began in 2005 our goal was twofold: to inspire adults to ask, “How can I help prevent child sexual abuse?” and to be able to provide them resources proven to protect children.
PCAR partnered with former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge to raise funds to provide these resources. We kicked off our efforts with the Vision of Hope Gala, and have hosted this black-tie optional affair each year since.
The Vision of Hope Gala is an elegant event that features a silent and live auction, dinner and dancing, and a moving program featuring survivor speakers and champions for children. Our 13th Annual Gala will be held on April 6, 2019 at the Hershey Lodge.
Photos from past years:
Message from Michele Ridge
Thank you for taking the opportunity to learn more about the Vision of Hope Fund and how you can help prevent sexual abuse in your community.
As a mother of two, I believe every child deserves to live a life filled with love, laughter, friends and family. They deserve a life free from sexual abuse.
During my tenure as first lady of Pennsylvania, I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with victims of sexual abuse, both young and old who often shared with me the profound impact these acts of violence had on their lives. Sexual abuse alters the lives of victims and those who love them, and leaves a lasting imprint on our communities. Survivors of abuse often battle depression, anxiety, problems with drugs, alcohol and even physical health issues. But I know there is help, hope and healing available thanks to supporters like you.
The Vision of Hope Fund raises money to provide resources to aid adults in protecting children, and serves as a reminder that each of us holds a crucial role in helping to end child sexual abuse in our communities. We are dedicated to growing and supporting effective prevention programming to change our communities, and the healing of those who have survived these traumatic experiences.
PCAR and I are proud to say Vision of Hope Fund grants are making an impact. Through supporters like you, we have raised funds to support the development of several curriculums that are making a difference. For instance, the curriculum used to train more than 30,000 faculty, staff and volunteers to recognize warning signs and report suspicions of neglect and child abuse was developed and evaluated through the Vision of Hope Fund.
More examples of the wonderful work made possible by our supporters can be found in the Accomplishments section.
Thank you for joining PCAR and I in support of new opportunities to keep children free from child sexual abuse.
Together, we can end sexual abuse.
Michele M. Ridge
Vision of Hope Grant
Request for Proposals
PCAR launched the fund in July 2005 to battle child sexual abuse by funding innovation in child sexual abuse prevention and intervention. We prioritize critical research, effective prevention strategies, teaching adult responsibility and accountability, and supporting services to children who have been sexually victimized.
A total of $50,000 is available to fund one or more projects each fiscal year. Awards are contingent on the availability of funding and are subject to approval of the PCAR/NSVRC Chief Executive Officer. One-year grants will be awarded.
Eligible applicants include public agencies (including state agencies, units of local government, public universities and colleges) and private organizations (including faith- and community-based organizations) conducting grant activities, including 501(c)(3), LEA (local education agencies), individual researchers or research organizations.
Ineligible projects include international proposals, funding for new personnel positions, funding to replication an existing project that is already being used elsewhere.
Applicants must provide documentation of 501(c)(3) determination.
2018 Grant winner:
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Vision of Hope Fund has granted the NEARI Press and Training Center nearly $50,000 to work with teachers, school counselors, coaches and other school professionals as well as pediatric medical professionals to provide adults with the tools to address healthy sexual development and potential sexual risk behaviors.
The Prevention 4 Professionals (P4P) project aims to connect with professionals who interact with children between the ages of 5 and 18 to provide them with the information, training, materials and resources that they need to identify children who are at-risk to sexual abuse and intervene before harm is committed.
P4P builds on NEARI Press and Training Center’s Parent 2 Parent project which was developed in 2017 to prevent child sexual abuse by conducting outreach to parents, caretakers, and families of youth at risk of sexual abuse.
Together, the programs work to create a seamless network of adults in the day-to-day life of children who are knowledgeable in prevention and equipped with the tools to address healthy sexual development and potential risk behaviors.
Making Right Choices: An effective Study of a School Employee Sexual Misconduit Prevention Program
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Vision of Hope Fund has granted Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.) $50,000 to develop the Making Right Choices: An Effectiveness Study of a School Employee Sexual Misconduct Prevention Program.
Making Right Choices provides school employees with an engaging sexual misconduct prevention program through both online and in-person trainings. The programs course will introduce participants to preventive measures and best practices that promote a healthy learning environment for students and those who serve them.
The goals of the project are to:
- Implement the Making the Right Choices program in three pilot school districts
- Determine what factors support or hinder implementation of Making Right Choices
- Increase school employee’s awareness and knowledge of school employee sexual misconduct
- Increase school employee’s ability and confidence to recognize and make lawful reports
- Create safer environments for students
- Disseminate findings
Children with Sexual Behavior Problems Program
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape's Vision of Hope Fund granted the Network of Victim Assistance $40,000 to develop the Children with Sexual Behavior Problems Program. This program was designed to develop services and treatment to children with sexual behavior problems under the age of 10.
Options to provide services and treatment to these children, especially the child who committed the offense, had been limted. Children under the age of 10 do not fall within the juvenile justice system and as a result, our courts cannot order treatment. Child welfare does not investigate these cases and law enforcement is also limited in their investigative procedures and mental health providers have not been trained on providing services for this group and their families.
NOVA was already working with youth between the ages of 10 and 14 who have shown sexual behavior problems. Funding from the Vision of Hope Fund closed the gap in services to the under 10 population and provide the intervention and treatment needed to help child victims and families heal and to prevent further sexual abuse of children.
The grant was used to develop protocols for intervention to children and their families; provide services and develop a training that would be provided to other rape crisis centers.
Survey of Child Sexual Abuse Knowledge and Attitudes
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape's Vision of Hope Fund granted Chiara Sabina, Ph.D., $50,000 to develop the Survey of Child Sexual Abuse Knowledge and Attitudes in 2014.
Adults in Pennsylvania can play a pivotal role in the prevention of child sexual abuse by recognizing child abuse and intervening on children’s behalf. Public education efforts can equip adults to protect children by increasing knowledge of child sexual abuse, including ways to respond to child sexual abuse, and engendering favorable attitudes towards intervention.
The project, which was a collaboration between Dr. Sabina and a community-based organization, took steps towards this goal by inventorying the current knowledge and attitudes of Pennsylvanian adults regarding child sexual abuse in order to shape future public awareness efforts. The current knowledge and attitudes of child sexual abuse among Pennsylvanians were assessed via a statewide telephone poll of 600 adults who answered 10-15 questions regarding child sexual abuse.
Results revealed demographic (gender, age, ethnicity, race, education, income, parental status) and geographic (urban, suburban, rural, regional) trends in child sexual abuse knowledge and attitudes.
These findings along with a review of current public education efforts were combined to generate research and practice-based recommendations for future targeted public education efforts.
Dr. Sabina is an established researcher with expertise in interpersonal violence, particularly sexual assault, intimate partner violence and teen dating violence. Her work maintains a focus on issues of resilience, diversity and the need to improve the quality of services. She has conducted national studies on the victimization of Latin@ women and teens and a needs assessment for victim services which is culminating in policy and service recommendations.
The Starting Young Project
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape’s Vision of Hope Fund granted the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Pittsburgh Action Against Rape, and University of Massachusetts Boston professor Anne Douglas $50,000 to develop The Start Young project in 2013.
The project was designed to educate, train, engage and mobilize adults and Early Childhood Center staffs to effectively intervene and prevent child sexual abuse while promoting healthy development.
PAAR and BARCC combined staff training curriculum and the policy consultation approach for child care centers used by BARCC with PAAR’s work with parents of young children to create one replicable program.
Efforts focused on elevating the knowledge and behavior of staff at child care centers and adapting policies at child care centers to promote the development of healthy sexuality and prevent child sexual abuse.
PARR and BARCC believe early childhood educators are in a unique position to promote the healthy sexual development of young children and prevent sexual abuse.
Studies have shown that appropriate responses to children’s sexual behaviors can be a preventive action when they are based on knowledge of developmentally appropriate sexual behaviors.
Parents of young children also received training through multi-session workshops developed to build skills about respectful relationships, age-appropriate sexual development, sexual abuse prevention and healthy sexuality through education, discussion and role plays.
By focusing on both parents and early childhood educators simultaneously, The Start Young project enhanced the role parents and child-related organizations play in the promotion of healthy sexual development.
A Situational Prevention Approach
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape's Vision of Hope Fund granted Portland State University professor Dr. Keith Kaufman $100K over two years to support his research and evaluation of a pilot project to reduce instances of child sexual abuse at youth-serving organizations.
PCAR provided $50K to Kaufman through the Vision of Hope Fund to launch the pilot project in collaboration with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and its affiliates in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Portland in 2011.
The second year of funding ($50K) is being used in 2012 to test the effectiveness of the Situational Prevention Approach — a systematic process developed to reduce opportunities for people to sexually abuse children — when clubs apply the model.
The approach was designed specifically for youth-serving organizations to better protect the children they serve by helping programs identify risk factors and strengthen policies, procedures and the physical environment.
Sixteen clubs across Florida, Oregon, Indiana, and New Jersey are participating in this examination of the approach's prevention impact. The second year of funding also is supporting the development of a Situational Prevention Approach training model for rape crisis staff across the country who are in a position to apply it with the many community organizations with whom they consult.
In the first year of this project, Kaufman worked with the pilot clubs in Pennsylvania and Oregon to tailor the prevention approach to the culture of the Boys & Girls Club affiliates.
A guide to implement the approach will be distributed to rape crisis centers and more than 4,000 Boys and Girls Clubs across the U.S.
Training for mandated reporters
The Vision of Hope Fund awarded a grant to Network of Victim Assistance of Bucks County (NOVA) in 2008-09 to develop and implement a comprehensive training curriculum and trainer's guide for educating mandated reporters — teachers, child care workers, medical professionals, police officers and anyone else who works with children — about the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse.
NOVA — a member of the PCAR network of rape crisis centers serving Pennsylvania — worked to increase the likelihood that mandated reporters would report suspected incidents of child abuse to child protective services or law enforcement.
NOVA partnered with Emily Greytak, Ph.D. to conduct a preliminary evaluation of the training. The evaluation found participants felt an increased level of knowledge in identifying signs of child abuse, reported positive attitude changes toward the reporting process, reported higher confidence in ability and likelihood to report suspected abuse, and felt reporting abuse was more important than previously-held myths or barriers to reporting.
Since NOVA developed the curriculum in 2008-09, the training guide has been used throughout the state. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia hired NOVA in 2011 to train more than 30,000 staff and volunteers to recognize warning signs of child sexual abuse. NOVA also taught staff how to properly report suspicions and safeguard child using the mandated reporter training curriculum.
The curriculum was used to educate more than 30,000 faculty and staff within the Pennsylvania State University system across Pennsylvania.
Where We Live — A Parent Involvement Project
The Parent Involvement Project was designed to teach parents skills needed to intervene and protect a child for whom they are concerned and to share their knowledge with other adults.
Effective child sexual abuse prevention is rooted in changing individual and social norms through participatory learning and skill-building. This curriculum acknowledges that parents have the greatest influence on children, and provides pilot-tested methods to effectively educate parents and build skills critical to creating safe environments for children.
PCAR's Special Initiative funding opportunity provided a start up grant to Pittsburgh Action Against Rape and Stephanie Townsend, PhD. to research, develop, and conduct a preliminary evaluation of this promising prevention program.
The PNC Foundation, Pennsylvania State University, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Leo Niessen Jr. Charitable Foundation and the Grable Foundation have joined to provide funding to the Vision of Hope Fund to support the expansion of this project across the Southwest region of Pennsylvania.
The project consists of a series of workshops that educate parents about child sexual abuse and abusers, what parents can say to kids when talking about personal boundaries and self-esteem, actions to take when they suspect or learn of abuse, and how to communicate consistently and respectfully with children; all research-based strategies in promoting safety and respectful relationships.
The program also incorporates the use of the Crime Victim's Alliance of Pennsylvania/Speaker's Bureau, which provides parents with an opportunity to hear from survivors of sexual abuse and gain vital insight into prevention and protecting children.
The expansion effort in the Southwest region will consist of piloting the program in six additional counties, conducting more intensive evaluation and assessment of effectiveness, and recommending revisions to the manual.
Continuing Education for Family Physicians
The Vision of Hope Fund awarded their 2010 grant to the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians (PAFP) to provide continuing education on child sexual abuse and mandated reporter training to family physicians across Pennsylvania.
The PAFP Foundation identified significant learning gaps among family physicians, particularly regarding the ablity to identify signs that were indicative of or concerning of child sexual abuse.
PAFP utilized a multi-faceted approach to educate its member family physicians during the grant period.
The foundation hosted child sexual abuse speakers at three Continuing Medical Education conferences in November 2010, March 2011 and July 2011. Dr. Mary Carrasco, Dr. Pat Bruno and Dr. Laura Brennan covered topics including pre-pubertal child sexual abuse, sexually transmitted infections in abused children, signs of abuse and how to report suspicions of abuse.
The lectures by Dr. Bruno and Dr. Brennan were recorded and developed into CME webcasts for viewing online by PAFP members. The content of Dr. Carrasco's presentation was developed into a three-page Child Sexual Abuse Tip Sheet.
Other resources created by PAFP as part of the Vision of Hope grant include "FAQs for Mandated Reporters" and a "What is Child Abuse" booklet. Articles and educational materials also appeared in the public health version of the PAFP member newsletters and magazine during the grant period.
Internet safety training for parents
The Vision of Hope Fund provided support to Abuse and Rape Crisis Center (ARCC) in Bradford County in 2009 to develop and implement an Internet Safety Program for Parents.
The four-week program was presented in a series of hands-on workshops addressing the dangers of internet predators, safety within social networking sites and monitoring home computer usage to protect children from exposure to pornography and sexual solicitation.
The Internet Safety Program includes multiple activities designed to increase students' knowledge of risky online behaviors.
The program showed parents and caregivers basic internet protections, security features on gaming counsels such as the Xbox 360 and instructions regarding privacy settings on Facebook and MySpace.
ARCC partnered with the Towanda and Troy Area school districts and the Bradford County YMCA to host the training sessions.
The success of the program helped the Vision of Hope Fund to secure a generous $30,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to expand the Internet Safety Program to Cumberland County in October 2009. Participants in the program included teachers and parents at Big Spring and Cumberland Valley school districts and throughout Cumberland County.
The Vision of Hope Fund and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center supported a scholarly review of literature, materials and prevention and treatment programs on child sexual abuse.
The review examined research published between 1987 and 2010 on educational programs, literature, community notification efforts, prevention efforts and therapy frameworks intended to educate parents and professionals about child sexual abuse prevention.
The review was conducted in two segments-one for parents and a second for professionals. Gaps in the response to child sexual assault, priority areas for research and promising practices were identified for each.
The first segment of the review process focusing on parents has been approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Click here to view the segment of the literature review in its entirety.
Vision of Hope Award
PCAR presents the Vision of Hope Award annually to a person committed to protecting children through violence prevention and intervention work. This award recognizes outstanding contributions in the area of child abuse prevention. It is awarded yearly to an individual that demonstrates a commitment to ensuring the safety of our children through increasing awareness, strengthening policies or creating initiatives/campaigns that promote healthy families and communities.
- Leadership. Nominees must exhibit a sustained and outstanding commitment to the prevention of child abuse.
- Collaboration. Nominees’ initiative includes promotion of partnerships and collaborations with the goal of protecting our youth from sexual abuse.
- Innovation. Nominees’ distinguished work has made significant contributions to the health and welfare of our children in the area of child abuse prevention.
- Advocacy. Nominees’ achievements demonstrate the importance of prevention and safety as well as community involvement and responsibility to combat child sexual abuse.
Past Vision of Hope Award winners
2019:Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General
Josh Shapiro serves as Pennsylvania’s Attorney General to combat crime, uphold individual rights, and protect consumers. His work has earned him a national reputation as a rising progressive leader and bipartisan consensus builder.
Attorney General Shapiro’s leadership and unwavering commitment to victims of child sexual abuse has inspired and helped to create a path to healing for countless survivors.
His office investigated the sexual abuse of children by clergy members in six of Pennsylvania's Catholic dioceses. Since the release of the Grand Jury report, the Office of the Attorney General has worked with victims and survivors, advocates, and legislators to call for reforms that will allow victims to seek justice and remedies for the crimes committed against them and to strengthen protections of children going forward in the various community settings in which they learn, play, pray, and engage.
Prior to his position as Attorney General, Mr. Shapiro served as Chairman on the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, where among many other efforts to combat crime, he strengthened the ability of PA's network of rape crisis centers to serve male survivors of sexual abuse. As Chairman of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners Mr. Shapiro led an historic fiscal turnaround, helped the first LGBT couples in PA marry, and protected voting rights. As State Representative for Pennsylvania’s 153rd House District he helped to pass some of the toughest ethics laws in state history.
PCAR thanks Attorney General Shapiro for his guidance and steadfast commitment to all victims of sexual violence and to preventing this crime throughout the Commonwealth.
2018: Jenny Murphy-Shifflet, President and CEO of the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center of Lebanon and Schuylkill counties, retired
Jenny Murphy-Shifflet recently retired as the President/CEO of the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center of Lebanon and Schuylkill counties after 29 years of service to children and adults impacted by sexual violence.
Her accomplishments included:
- Establishing a children’s therapy program and holistic healing modalities into the fold of services offered at no-cost to her center’s community.
- Working to establish a satellite location for the Children’s Resource Center in Lebanon County.
- Dedicating time and efforts to bring funding and support for prevention programs at daycares, summer camps and schools.
2017: Julie Evans, Director of Prevention & Victim Response at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape & Mary Worthington, Elementary Education Coordinator at Network of Victim Assistance
Julie is a nationally recognized expert in the field of sexual violence with more than 21 years of experience. She actively serves as member of the Statewide Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Planning Committee and as co-chair of PASAC’s Prevention committee which helps to shape primary prevention programming in the Commonwealth.
As a member of senior management at Pittsburgh Action Against Rape for the last 12 years, Julie directs the planning, implementation, coordination and evaluation of prevention and victim response services.
Julie also currently serves on the national advisory board for “Coaching Boys Into Men.” She’s also earned recognition for her outreach in the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities in Allegheny County.
Mary is dedicated to the advocacy of children, working for nearly two decades at NOVA as the Elementary Education Coordinator where she develops and presents prevention programs to youth in Bucks County.
As a former teacher, Mary saw the need for students to develop skills involving their personal safety. She’s created numerous innovative training tools and techniques that are aimed to protect children and international recognition for her development of a comprehensive primary prevention of child abuse program for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Mary’s work has been featured on Philadelphia’s CBS-TV3 News, WB17 News and on Radio Talk Health Network. She’s also been noted in the New York Times, San Diego Union Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today.
2016: James Holler,consultant & William Weber Jr., Chief County Detective of Lycoming County
The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape was proud to present the 2016 Vision of Hope Award to James Holler and William Weber, Jr. Each of these men have contributed greatly to protecting children in the Commonwealth.
James Holler has championed the causes of children through his work in Liberty Township, the Children's Advocacy Center and as a consultant. He also established the first Internet Crimes Against Children task force in Adams County in 2005, helping to keep children safe by coordinating and executing sting operations that successfully convicted those who aimed to sexually abuse children.
Holler, a Fairfield, PA resident, also has worked to educate adults on prevention techniques and the grooming of children by those who sexually abuse children.
William Weber, Jr., Chief County Detective of Lycoming County, served 28 years with the Williamsport Bureau of Police, specializing in the prevention, investigation and conviction of child sexual abuse cases.
He is an active member of the Lycoming County multi-disciplinary investigative team facilitating reviews on cases of child physical and sexual abuse and has assisted in the establishment and implementation of child abuse investigation protocols in Lycoming County.
Weber also helped to establish the county's Sexual Assault Response Team and is a core member of the county's Human Trafficking Response Team.
2015: Jackie Atherton Benard, Blair County First Asst. District Attorney
Jackie has dedicated her career to fighting for the rights and needs of children,” PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg said. “She was instrumental in efforts in Blair County to develop a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners program and has conducted countless trainings for groups including police officers, domestic violence and rape counselors, victim advocates, Children and Youth caseworkers, coroners and magisterial district judges. PCAR is proud to recognize her many accomplishments.”
Through nearly two decades of service as a prosecutor, Bernard’s accomplishments include creating and implementing the county’s first Child Abuse Prosecution Unit and successfully fighting for changes to the Commonwealth’s child pornography sentencing guidelines which resulted in more severe penalties for those convicted.
“I am honored to receive the 2014 Vision of Hope Award and humbled to be in the company of the past Award winners,” Bernard said. “For the past 19 years as a prosecutor, I have had the privilege of representing the law abiding citizens of this great Commonwealth in and out of the courtroom, as we work together to protect our children. In doing so, I am blessed to work with police officers, victim advocates, and other community members, who are committed to obtaining justice for our innocent children and holding child abusers accountable.”
In 2012, Bernard served on the Task Force on Child Protection, an 11-person panel that reviewed and recommended changes to current laws and regulations relating to the reporting of child abuse.
2014: Joan Mills, A Child's Place at Mercy
For nearly three decades Mills has worked to establish child-centered and trauma-informed interventions and treatment services at A Child’s Place at Mercy while promoting collaboration between organizations such as children advocacy centers and rape crisis centers.
Mills also has advocated for policy changes and improvements to the state child protection laws and practices.
One example is the use of filmed forensic interviews of child victims. Mills argued that this would reduce the trauma for a child during trial while providing evidence to the jury in the child’s own words. While this doesn’t preclude the child from testifying during the trial, the child’s exposure to trauma and court room tactics may be limited by the opportunity to rely on a high quality forensic interview.
In a child sexual abuse case last July in Westmoreland County assistant district attorney cited the use of the forensic interview as the difference in the jury returning a guilty verdict.
It is just one of the many ways Mills has made a difference.
2013: Erie County Child Abuse Task Force for its focus on reducing the number of child sexual abuse victims, creating safer environments for children and providing support to at-risk families in Erie County.
The group, comprised of more than 20 key agencies in Erie County, formed in June 2011 after former Pennsylvania First Lady Michele Ridge and PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg issued a challenge at Gannon University for the county to increase education and outreach efforts relating to child sexual abuse. Dr. Carolynn Masters, Gannon University dean of the College of Health Professions and Sciences, created a plan to bring together all of the key agencies involved in the care of children in Erie County.
During the last year, the team developed a marketing plan that included awareness and educational opportunities including a magnet giveaway at the Erie Zoo Boo, participating in the Millcreek Fourth of July parade and staffing resource tables at a number of events. Dr. Richard Kaplan, a renowned child abuse expert also conducted a full-day training for task force members.
Awareness efforts are continuing in 2013 with a year-long bus advertising campaign and promotion of Pinwheels for Prevention throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. The team also is conducting research to define high-risk neighborhoods to target for prevention efforts.
The task force was created in June 2011, and currently includes 23 agencies: Achievement Center; Bethesda Children's Home; Bradley H. Foulk Children's Advocacy Center; City of Erie School District (Student Services and Student Assistance); Crime Victim's Center of Erie County; Diocese of Erie: Office for Protection of Children and Youth; Erie County Care Management; Erie County District Attorney's Office; Erie Family Center; Erie Community Foundation; Erie County Health Department; Erie County Office of Children and Youth; Erie Police Department; Family Services of Northwest PA; Gannon University; Parental Alienation Awareness Organization; Presque Isle Psychiatric Association; Safe Harbor Behavior Health; Safe Net Domestic Violence; Saint Vincent Health System; Shriners Hospital for Children; Success by 6; and UPMC Hamot.
The Vision of Hope Award is presently annual to recognize those who show a commitment to protecting children through violence prevention and intervention work and ensures the safety of our children through increasing awareness, strengthening policies or creating campaigns that promote healthy families and communities.
2012: Cathleen Palm, for her work as a legislative aide, policy advocate and community activist for more than two decades.
Through her work, she has positively affected the lives of thousands of children. Her accomplishments include co-founding the Protect Our Children Committee in 2003. Through her work on the committee, Palm pressed for Pennsylvania voters to approve changes to the state constitution that allowed victimized children to provide court testimony by means other than face-to-face, minimizing the child's trauma. The committee also promoted investment in evidence-based home visiting programs like Nurse-Family Partnership, ensured Pennsylvania became compliant with the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, helped to create Citizen Review Panel and secured receipt of federal Children's Justice Act dollars to improve the reporting and investigation of child sexual abuse. Her advocacy work also helped to create the Task Force on Child Protection which offers recommendations to Gov. Tom Corbett and the Pennsylvania General Assembly on comprehensive improvements to better protect Pennsylvania children from child abuse and sexual victimization.
2011: Cynthia Stine, Education Outreach Coordinator and Child & Teen Advocate at Safe Haven of Pike County, for helping children who have suffered the devastation and trauma of child sexual abuse through her work leading the Rallying Youth Organizers Together (RYOT) Against Rape teen group.
Cindy has dedicated her career to changing social norms and directing the community focus toward prevention of child sexual abuse.
2010: Frank Cervone, Executive Director at the Support Center for Child Advocates, for his work overseeing the country's oldest and largest pro bono legal and social services agency serving abused and neglected children.
Since its founding in 1977, Child Advocates has trained more than 3,500 attorneys who contribute pro bono services valued at more than $3.5 million annually.