Oregon City, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley visited the site of the new Children’s Center in Clackamas County and joined education and state officials to raise awareness about the need for more support for children of abuse. Senator Merkley highlighted the increasing number of child abuse cases and the correlation to the economic downturn.
“Even one case of child abuse or neglect is too many, and with the ongoing economic downturn, the numbers of Oregon children suffering from abuse is on the rise,” said Merkley. “We must do everything in our power to reduce the number of children being abused and help provide sanctuary to those in need. The Children’s Center offers a beacon of hope to children and families of abuse. Every community should have a facility like the Children’s Center.”
“We are grateful to Senator Merkley for making the safety of Oregon children a clear priority,” said Children’s Center Executive Director Tonia Hunt. “Children suffering from abuse deserve the best care we can possibly give them, and responding to their needs takes awareness and alertness of the whole community.”
Senator Merkley highlighted the important role that education and state officials play in children’s lives. For children suffering from abuse, summertime can be a long and painful summer of silence because children are often isolated during summer break. When they return to school, they may be ready to share their stories with teachers, counselors, and other trusted adults.
“By working together, we can do more to protect Oregon’s children and reduce abuse and neglect,” said Bruce Goldberg, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services. “The Children’s Center is a wonderful example of how local communities ensure no children are ever without the help they need.”
In 2009, the Children’s Center received the Department of Justice’s competitive Edward Byrne Memorial Grant in the amount of $574,000. As part of the federal Recovery Act, this grant helped the Children’s Center hire more staff and consequently serve more children than ever before. The Children’s Center is on track to serve 400 children this year, an increase of more than 30 percent over last year.
Founded in 2002, the Children’s Center provides medical assessments and other critical services to children who are suspected victims of physical or sexual abuse. The new Children’s Center, expected to open in April 2011, will provide up to 600 assessments per year and will become a much-needed regional hub for child abuse prevention work.