Child advocates add focus on senior victims

Posted 12/1/17

Ralston House Child Advocacy Center, which has been in existence for 11 years, is a most capable service provider which works closely with law enforcement, human services, district attorney’s …

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Child advocates add focus on senior victims

Posted

Ralston House Child Advocacy Center, which has been in existence for 11 years, is a most capable service provider which works closely with law enforcement, human services, district attorney’s offices in Jefferson, Adams, Gilpin and Broomfield Counties and throughout the community.

They have three facilities ­— two located in Jefferson County and a new facility they are building in Northglenn on 112th Avenue.

They are nationally accredited as a children’s advocacy center with trained personnel who provide forensic interviews for children who have been victim or witness of crime. This could be sexual abuse, physical abuse, exposure to violence or drug endangerment.

Assisting older persons is a new focus

Approximately 18 months ago, Ralston House management was approached by the district attorneys from the 1st and 17th Judicial Districts to assist in a new arena which involves specially trained interviewers.

In this case, the new focus involves older persons. The law requires interviewing children and adults who are determined to be intellectually and developmentally disabled and who have experienced trauma of one kind or another.

New laws require reporting incidents to law enforcement that in turn rely on trained organizations like Ralston House to conduct interviews to gain critical information.

A growing trend is offering help to senior persons who have been the victim of financial crimes, abuse, neglect or sexual assault. As a result, Ralston House recently ramped up their capacity to assist in the interviewing of seniors and assisting law enforcement and District Attorneys’ Offices.

Working through law enforcement

Often times, a care giver — who may or may not be a family member — reports an incident involving the senior person. It is critical for trained personnel to conduct interviews after building rapport with the victim. They follow protocols, which include a phased interview approach along with video and audio recordings.

Too often, the victim or family or caregivers are not aware of this service being available working with law enforcement and social service providers.

I was told by Ralston House personnel that it is an ongoing challenge to “get the word out” to the community that such services are available. However, they work through police departments and sheriff’s offices in receiving the referrals.

So, if you or your family or friends encounter a situation involving a senior person who has been a victim, start with the police and they will interact with the appropriate organization and personnel for the interview process.

Unfortunately, older people have become a growing target for con artists, abusers and the like.

Culinary program expands at westminster public schools

What exciting news about the expanded program for Westminster High School culinary and restaurant students!

Recently, the district unveiled an expanded and upgraded culinary program at Hidden Lake High School. The kitchen has restaurant grade equipment which allows students to learn on the real thing.

The remodeled space also has the potential for a café which would give students the full experience in restaurant operations. It is fantastic to see the district connect with ProStart, a national culinary education program designed to prepare students for careers in food preparation and business, either in professional kitchens, catering or manufacturing.

The two year program gives students college credit and important professional accreditation which helps open doors upon graduation for employment.

Congratulations to Sandy Steiner, director of post-secondary and workforce readiness, the school district administration and school board for achieving this expanded emphasis in one of the vocational areas students can pursue.

This is a big step in the right direction for WPS students to have education and training opportunities in vocational fields. More tax dollar investments in this general arena would be money well spent. Hopefully, the café idea will take flight at some point to give students this real life experience. It reminds me of many years ago when WPS had Le Parc Restaurant at the same school building which was open for lunch to the public.

Experiencing a little joy

As we find ourselves already into the Christmas holiday season and year-end giving, I am thankful for all of the non-profit organizations which do so much with so little.

We just had the opportunity to select our favorite charities thanks to 1st Bank’s annual Colorado Gives Day. However, there is still time to give the old fashion way with cash, check or credit card. With more people in need these days, it is all the more important to contribute to organizations which provide basic elements of everyday living.

A few examples include Growing Home; Have a Heart, Westminster Legacy Foundation, A Precious Child, the Salvation Army, FISH and the Senior Hub.

Certainly, the “red kettle” holiday season drive by the Salvation Army is an obvious example of how small contributions add up to feed and clothe so many. May as many of us as possible help less fortunate individuals and families experience some joy.

Bill Christopher is a former Westminster city manager and RTD board member. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.

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