National Children’s Advocacy Center reveals challenges, adjustments due to pandemic

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Child crimes investigations, interviews, and therapy statistics dropped “substantially” in 2020, according to the National Children’s Advocacy Center.

For decades, the NCAC has worked with North Alabama authorities to investigate child abuse, but Executive Director Chris Newlin admits that without meeting in person as much due to the pandemic, its work in Madison County was made more difficult.

According to an NCAC report, the initial shutdowns in March and April 2020 led to 53 fewer forensic interviews than the same timeframe in 2019.

21 percent fewer forensic interviews were conducted following allegations of physical child abuse in 2020 as compared to 2019. However, the cases seen by child abuse response professionals often had more severe or life threatening injuries to the child.

Meanwhile, Newlin said NCAC family advocates conducted 40 percent more follow ups with families receiving services than in the previous year.

“We’ve innovated, so we continue to do interviews one family at a time,” Newlin said.

“We continue to do medical exams, with folks waiting in their cars until it’s time for their appointment instead of waiting in our waiting room. And we’ve taken all of our mental health services and started doing them via telehealth…We’re proud of improving with these adjustments.”

Newlin said he looks forward to increasing the report’s numbers in the next year, as well as getting his team on the list for vaccine appointments as soon as possible.

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