In 2018 an estimated one in seven children in the United States experienced child abuse or neglect. That is, an estimated 678,000 children victims — one percent of the child population. And this number is thought to be low because many cases go unreported.
There were 49,262 investigations into reported child abuse or neglect in Washington in 2019. The statistics are staggering.
At Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center an average of 1,100 kids pass through their door every year — 22 a week.
“We offer a warm, welcoming, child-friendly, comfortable, and safe place to get help,” says Lori Vanderburg, Executive Director at Dawson Place.
Dawson Place is a non-profit organization providing safety, justice, and healing to victims of child physical abuse, sexual assault, neglect, drug endangerment, or a witness to a violent crime.
“What makes Dawson Place unique is that it offers every service needed under one roof,” says Vanderburg. Professionals such as prosecutors, police, CPS, medical staff and advocacy specialists work together for the overall health and safety of the victim.
“Having everyone under one roof allows our team to devote all their efforts to helping children and reduces the time spent coordinating across different organizations,” says Vanderburg.
The outreach team meets people where they are, meaning they are in the community talking, listening, and reaching out to children and families.
“Our team was at an event educating the public on our services. They were giving out bubbles, and they had people coming up to them asking for soap, shampoo, basic hygiene items,” says Vanderburg. This experience led to producing hygiene kits and handing them out at places like the food bank or events.
“We measure success by ensuring kids are heard, offering them therapy and advocacy, and being able to go out in the world and thrive as contributing members of their community,” says Vanderburg. “Sometimes success is just keeping children safe and giving them a place to live and be supported.”
After many years of planning and education, Dawson Place first opened its doors in 2006. The original idea of a multidisciplinary team under one roof came from Alabama District Attorney Robert Cramer. In 1985, he met with a young victim and asked her multiple questions, after which she responded, “don’t you people talk to each other?”
To ensure child victims of abuse and trauma will never ask that question again, Dawson Place offers a place for safety, justice, and healing in one place, reducing the trauma associated with the abuse.