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Critical response services for child maltreatment now under one roof in Northeastern SD

WATERTOWN, S.D. – The Northeast Respond, Educate, Advocate, Counsel, Heal Multidisciplinary Team, known in short as REACH MDT, opened its doors August 22, bringing critical child maltreatment response services together in one location for the first time in northeast South Dakota.

Operating at the Sanford Health Child’s Voice Outreach Clinic, the Northeast REACH MDT serves children across 13 counties in South Dakota. The effort is coordinated by Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota in partnership with the Watertown Police Department, Department of Social Services, Division of Criminal Investigation, local attorneys and prosecutors as well as Sioux Falls-based Child’s Voice, a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center that provides medical evaluations for children who may be victims of abuse and neglect.

“The REACH MDT will transform how professionals respond to and care for victims of child maltreatment,” said Cameron Corey, a DCI special agent. “The principle of REACH is to provide a ‘one stop shop’ for victims and their families.  REACH provides the best concept in bringing together services for all forms of child maltreatment including physical abuse, sexual abuse, witness to violence, neglect and sex trafficking.  REACH removes the silos that exist through South Dakota and creates a movement where everyone is working in unity.”

The grand opening celebrates the collaboration and initiative from the Watertown community and statewide partners, a call to action inspired by the work of Jolene’s Law Task Force who identified that more than 4,000 South Dakotan children from all socio-economic and race groups experience sexual abuse every year.  The Jolene’s Law Task Force created a 10-year comprehensive plan to end childhood sexual abuse in the state, efforts led by the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at the University of South Dakota.

“After three years of Jolene’s Law Task Force work, the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment was established to save our children from abuse,” said Deb Soholt, a state senator and member of the task force. “Three major pillars of work are in process to improve knowledge, enhance response and prevent maltreatment from happening.  Through REACH, Watertown is setting the benchmark for the entire state for how we will respond to suspected cases of child maltreatment.”

“The eradication of child sexual abuse and maltreatment in South Dakota must be a team effort,” said Carrie Sanderson, CPCM director.  “The REACH MDT demonstrates the strength of a group of people working toward a goal and we are proud to support their efforts in the Watertown area.  Our hope is to facilitate and grow similar REACH MDTs across South Dakota.”

The MDT model has been widely adopted nationwide and includes law enforcement, child protective services, attorneys, forensic interviewers and medical providers in a collaborative approach to address incidences of suspected child maltreatment. Using this model, children and their families in northeastern South Dakota no longer need to drive to multiple locations for services or be subjected to repetitive interviews, in turn reducing trauma and enhancing care.

ABOUT CHILD ADVOCACY CENTERS OF SOUTH DAKOTA

The Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota (CAC-SD) is an accredited State Chapter of the National Children’s Alliance and represents local children’s advocacy centers in South Dakota. Since 1998, CAC-SD’s membership has grown to four accredited centers and one developing center that serve children and families throughout the state.  The CAC-SD Chapter Coordinator also serves as the MDT Coordinator for the Northeast REACH Team. For more information please contact Nick Bratvold at coord.cacsd@gmail.com or (605) 951-5174.

ABOUT CENTER FOR THE PREVENTION OF CHILD MALTREATMENT

The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment (CPCM) is the first organization to join local, tribal, state and federal efforts in the fight against child sexual abuse and other forms of maltreatment in South Dakota.  CPCM was born out of the work of Jolene’s Law Task Force, established through SDCL 2-6-31, and its comprehensive 10-year plan to help South Dakotans know of, respond to, and prevent child sexual abuse.  For more information on CPCM please contact Carrie Sanderson at carrie.sanderson@usd.edu, (605) 357-1392, or visit www.sdcpcm.com.

The Child Advocacy Centers of South Dakota

CACSD is a network of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) dedicated to helping local communities respond to allegations of child abuse in ways that are effective and efficient – and put the needs of child victims first.

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Reporting abuse or neglect can protect a child and get help for a family – it may even save a child’s life. Learn more about reporting child abuse here.