Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, the region’s leading resource to prevent abuse, protect children and heal families, is celebrating its first year of operating two full-time locations - Charleston (1061 King Street) and Mt. Pleasant (677 Long Point Road).
The rededication of the Charleston location in July 2019 marked the completion of Dee Norton’s expansion project, which has helped further the Center’s goal of being able to serve twice as many children and their families. The results fuel Dee Norton’s impact – children who receive a coordinated response can, and do, heal.
Dee Norton’s recently released 2019 Annual Report highlights the services provided for 1,269 children across the Lowcountry. In total, Dee Norton conducted the following in 2019:
1,121 Forensic Interviews
766 Medical Exams
264 Mental Health Assessments
2,849 Coordinated Cases
922 Therapy Sessions (evidence-based treatment)
1,769 Trained Community Professionals
The report also details Dee Norton’s overall vision to be the leading abuse and trauma center with several forward-thinking initiatives, including:
Hosted Annual Charleston Child Trauma Conference - brought 280 researchers and front-line practitioners from 34 states and Canada together to share information to enhance work with child trauma victims and caregivers
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Program - this specialized program helped 69 youth in the community and spearheaded efforts to educate professionals to identify victims of child sex trafficking while also developing a specialized protocol for youth suspected of having been commercially sexually exploited
Partnered with Canine Companions for Independence - welcomed Viper, the Labrador/Golden Retriever as the newest staff member to work alongside his therapist/forensic interviewer owner to help calm and inspire children
Piloted Child Abuse Prevention Education Initiative with Porter-Gaud School - 13 Dee Norton staff members, with more than 60 combined years of experience, trained 963 students, staff and parents with first comprehensive, standard-setting child abuse prevention initiative
Dee Norton is proud of these significant milestones and accomplishments but also recognizes that its efforts and work must continue as the organization already anticipates a substantial rise in cases over the next two decades.
“We know both Charleston and Berkeley Counties are expected to grow in population exponentially over the next 20 years, indicating a rising need for child advocacy center services in the area,” said Dr. Carole Swiecicki, Executive Director of Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. “Now, with two operating locations, Dee Norton can continue to provide for our community, plus be prepared for the anticipated demand for our services.”
Today, one year after Dee Norton’s second location opened, the Center is using its additional space to respond and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has pivoted its resources by temporarily closing the Mt. Pleasant location to the public and turning that location into a hub for enhanced telehealth services and new therapy technologies. This virtual approach has allowed staff to continue to provide services even during this healthcare crisis.
“As essential service providers, we have continued to focus both on preventing abuse from happening and ensuring that those children that do experience abuse receive a high-quality, coordinated response and access to healing resources,” said Swiecicki. “Closing the Mt. Pleasant location to the public allowed us to support physical distancing to reduce the spread of the coronavirus while streamlining our telehealth services for those in need.”
To learn more about how you can help prevent child abuse, visit deenortoncenter.org
. The website also includes relevant pandemic resources, including tips for speaking with your child about the outbreak.