When child abuse is suspected, disclosed or reported, victims will find Ginnie’s House to be a child-friendly place that reduces further trauma by coordinating the child protection, law enforcement, prosecution, healthcare and mental health agencies.
Our Advocacy Center
Few things are more traumatic to a child than being sexually or physically abused, assaulted or to witness a violent crime. For these unfortunate victims, Ginnie’s House Children’s Advocacy Center provides a safe, child-friendly environment. We are here to help children from feeling victimized all over again during the investigative process as they disclose the abuse they have suffered.
Ginnie’s House is a New Jersey non-profit corporation that is otherwise known as the Sussex County Children’s Advocacy Center. And we are dedicated to increasing awareness of child abuse and how it can be prevented in our community. We are also nationally accredited and a full member of the National Children’s Alliance, which is located in Washington, D.C.
What is a Children’s Advocacy Center?
Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) are child-focused facilities through which the County Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) — made up of law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical and mental health professionals, victim witness and family advocates — can coordinate an investigative interview and follow-up services to children who are suspected to be victims of sexual or physical abuse.
Through the CAC, children and families are linked on a case-by-case basis to appropriate medical, mental health, advocacy, and other services as needed. These direct referrals ensure that accurate information is provided to professionals while minimizing the amount of trauma and humiliation that a child can experience.
The first Children’s Advocacy Center was developed in Huntsville, Alabama in 1985 as a way to avoid further re-traumatizing abused children during the investigative process. There are now over 750 CACs throughout the U.S.
Ginnie’s House Children’s Advocacy Center was founded in October 1995 as a non-profit Board of Directors. The need for a CAC came out of the realization that child victims of criminal abuse should not be re-traumatized by the very systems which were involved in ensuring that offenders were apprehended and prosecuted as fully as possible.
Ginnie’s House is situated in the center of the Town of Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey. The Center is in the historic Park Building located near the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office, Sussex District Office of the New Jersey Division Child Protection and Permanency, Sussex County Judicial Complex, Sussex County Sheriff’s Office and other human services agencies. The building was made available and is maintained by the Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The County of Sussex supports the program by permitting the historic Park Building, to be used as the Children’s Advocacy Center. The building was completely refurbished inside for specific purposes. Architectural and decorating plans were donated. Since the grand opening in November 1997, countless hours of community volunteers have been donated to augment the physical space.
Ginnie’s House is the first step in the road to survivorship from child sexual abuse. We humbly thank those whose ongoing commitment helps to ensure that each child receives comfort, healing, hope and justice through the center.
Creating a Safe Environment
At Ginnie’s House, multi-disciplinary teams from the various agencies work closely together in this child-friendly environment. One that is designed to ensure the child feels physically and psychologically safe so details relating to the abuse incident can be recounted in just one interview.
Sadly, the victims of child abuse usually know their abuser. They are often the people they love and trust most for their basic needs. They are also the people who bribe, threaten and coerce these little victims to ensure that the abuse is kept secret.
When abuse or assault is disclosed, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office Child Abuse/Sex Crimes Unit, and local law enforcement initiate a cooperative investigation. They arrange to meet the abused child and non-offending family members at the Center.
Before Ginnie’s House was established, each agency may have conducted it’s own independent interview – a humiliating experience for both the child and the family, who had to reveal intimate and secret details to strangers several times. But at Ginnie’s House today, procedures are designed to support these fragile victims. Once the multi-disciplinary teams gather the details surrounding the child abuse, they can now collaborate on intervention and safety plans.
Since the first child client was interviewed in Ginnie’s House in early 1998, over 500 Sussex County children have been interviewed in the facility, and many, many more have received mental health therapeutic services. Here are some excerpts from families and victims who have received care or services through Ginnie’s House:
I don’t know what my family would have done without the support and guidance of everyone at Ginnie’s House.
I really want to thank the staff at Ginnie’s House. I felt like I was part of their family. This was such a time of disbelief and frustration; however the staff kept us informed and comfortable. Thank you everyone for being there in our rough and hard times.
My son felt so safe and comfortable that he didn’t want to leave.