PARK CITY, Utah. — While the Summit County Children’s Justice Center (CJC) has existed since 2012, it opened the doors to its own facility for the first time in December 2020. Since then, the facility has provided a safe haven to numerous children and families who are faced with the difficult situation of reporting instances of child abuse to the authorities.
Their mission, according to Ted Walker, Executive Director of the Summit County CJC, is to provide a child-friendly atmosphere for interviews to be conducted with children who are alleged to have been abused or neglected. The facility also provides space for initial medical exams, mental health evaluations, and other services.
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“The need for children’s advocacy centers became apparent in the early 90s, when children would have to go to the police department for interviews. They would then have to go through the same process at the doctor’s office and again at Child Protective Services.” Walker says. “We know now that going through all of those interviews separately can cause secondhand trauma. So the idea of the CJC is to have one location where children can access all of those services at once through a single interview.”
Prior to the Summit County CJC obtaining its own facility, they operated out of the Summit County Library building. Walker points out that this was never an ideal location because there was always the risk that children visiting the center could run into people they knew, thereby endangering their privacy.
The new facility is funded by a number of different grants and non-profits, with the largest being the Friends of Children’s Justice Center of Summit County and the Delta Pilots Charitable Fund.
The facility also boasts the services of its most valued employee, Kallie, the black lab therapy dog. According to Walker, “She has already had a calming effect on both children and parents.”
To support the CJC’s mission, donations can be made on the Friends of the CJC of Summit County’s website. The website can also be used to report suspected occurrences of child abuse or endangerment.