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Worcester County Child Advocacy Task Force Celebrates C.R.I.C.K.E.T with an Open House

An open house with light refreshments will be held on Thursday, October 5 from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. to celebrate the opening of the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center, Inc., Worcester County’s new Child Advocacy Center. The center is being established to reduce the additional trauma the investigation process can cause for young victims of physical or sexual abuse and improve communications among law enforcement, social services and prosecutors.

Years in the making, the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center will serve as a gathering place for all agencies involved in the investigation of child abuse. From the center, a victim will undergo just one round of questioning by a social worker that is conducted in a comfortable, child-friendly setting. An audio-visual feed into a separate room, where other agencies’ representatives can observe the questioning and transmit additional questions back to the interviewer, will eliminate the need for separate interviews by law enforcement and the state’s attorney office.

The taped interview can also be used in trial, so a child may never have to step foot in a courtroom.

“The goal is to not re-victimize the child,” says Michelle Clifton, a nurse at Atlantic General Hospital and a pediatric Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner. “The C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center will allow investigation and prosecution of these crimes to go forward with as little involvement as possible for the children.”

The C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center is one of just two child advocacy centers on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that will be able to conduct a physical examination of the child on-site, rather than in a hospital emergency room. Clifton and one other forensic nurse examiner at Atlantic General Hospital will provide the physical exams at the center. By 2007, two more SAFE nurses will join her team specially certified in pediatrics examinations, ensuring that a nurse will always be on call to assist with a case.

The open house will be held at the C.R.I.C.K.E.T. Center inside Atlantic Health Center, located at 9714 Healthway Drive, Berlin, Md. A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. Call 410-677-6941 for details.