Hope’s Place opened its doors on October 17, 1998 in Ashland, Kentucky as a Children’s Advocacy Center. The Center grew out of a community child sexual abuse task force made up of child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, mental health and medical communities who met regularly to define and refine professional roles in investigations and intervention in order to improve the system’s response to sexual abuse. Their efforts resulted in strong working relationships with clear investigative guidelines for an intervention system designed with the victim as its primary focus. Out of this task force a multi-disciplinary team was formed according to KRS 431.600 and 620.020 which mandates that all investigations of child sexual abuse be conducted by a specialized multi-disciplinary team.
Kentucky has prioritized development of Children’s Advocacy Centers and was added to the multi-disciplinary team under KRS 431.600. Kentucky Association of Children’s Advocacy Centers (KACAC), a state association of Child Advocacy Centers was formed to provide regional centers with guidance and support. Hope’s Place is a full member in good standing in KACAC. In order to optimize services provided by Children’s Advocacy Centers and to maximize the spread of limited resources, a regionalized approach has been adopted for the funding and development of these agencies in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This planful, deliberate approach undertaken by the Governor’s Office has allowed decisions regarding the funding of local programs to be undertaken on a statewide plan for funding. Hope’s Place is the designated regional advocacy center for the FIVCO district and provides a safe, client friendly environment to victims and their families for all aspects of sexual assault, including initial evidence collection, counseling, and court preparation.
Hope’s Place facilitates the coordination of services from multiple agencies for the common goal of victim treatment, victim advocacy, accurate evidence collection, public education, and prevention of sex crimes.
The medical doctors’ utilization of a colposcopic (high magnification photography) for evidence collection increase the likelihood of finding positive genital findings.
With new legislation in 2001, Hope’s Place became Medicaid approved which mandated that each child receiving a medical exam have a mental health assessment prior to the exam. At the present, Hope’s Place contracts with physicians, Sexual Abuse Nurse Examiners, a mental health professional and employs the following staff: Executive Director, Clinic Coordinator/Family Advocate, Family Advocate and Forensic Interviewer.
In January 2003, a capital campaign began for the purchase and renovation of a larger facility. In April 2003, a building located at 1100 Greenup Avenue was purchased and administration relocated.
Hope’s Place is a victim-focused Children’s Advocacy Center that provides a safe atmosphere for the victim, lessens trauma and promotes healing by maximizing services through a multi-disciplinary team approach. Hope’s Place actively seeks to reduce the occurrence of sexual abuse and heighten awareness through prevention education. Our Center provides a victim-friendly, home-like environment, which is designed to meet the sexual abuse victim’s need for warmth, support and protection. Hope’s Place is where all agencies come together to meet the needs of sexually abused children by coordinating services for the common goal of prevention, intervention and accountability. Child sexual abuse is one of the most pervasive social problems faced by this society. Its impact is profound because of the sheer frequency with which it occurs and because of the trauma brought to the lives of children who experienced this crime. Historically, however, the sexual abuse of children was dismissed as a “family problem.”
The significant impact of childhood sexual abuse is unquestionable. This impact, however, speaks not only to the individual child victim of the crime, but also to the mental health community. There is no longer a question of whether child sexual abuse is a criminal justice problem or a social services problem or a mental health problem, for its power pervades the territory of each. The question must now lie in the resolve of all professionals to overcome skepticism with acknowledgment, disbelief with understanding, indifference with indignance, and reluctance to intervene with an unswayable intolerance of the victimization of all children.
Hope’s Place’ goals are to protect child victims of sexual abuse from harm, to provide remedial counseling for victims and their families, to minimize any further trauma, to protect society from the offender and to hold the offender accountable for his/her actions. Hope’s Place recognizes that effective child abuse intervention requires a cooperative effort between professionals in many agencies and disciplines.