KPAX - Augusta McDonnell
HAMILTON - A house in the middle of Hamilton is looking to make a big difference.
Emma’s House kicked off the opening of a new location on Friday with more room to support more children dealing with child abuse and neglect.
When abuse against children has occurred, Emma’s House offers services and support. The facility works hand in hand with law enforcement to streamline the interview and investigation process, which prevents from re-traumatizing the kids, so they don’t have to repeat what happened to them, over and over again.
“We’re not involved in the actual investigation, we turn the investigation over to law enforcement and child and family services, and then we work with families and kids to provide the trauma treatment, the counseling,” said Emma’s House executive director Valerie Widmer.
She says they will be able to serve more kids and families with expanded services. They have increased their caseload from 17 in 2006, to over 100 in 2017.
“Getting into this building is really going to help us expand our programming. Our staff and programming has grown because the need for kids has grown,” Widmer added.
Gov. Steve Bullock helped cut the ribbon with dozens of people on hand to celebrate.
“Whatever role that we have, we know that probably the most important responsibility that we have, from a private side to a state side, is to make sure that our kids have every single opportunity to grow,” he said.
This is Twyla, she is also new to Emma’s House. Twyla is a trained service dog and sits with kids during difficult interviews and in court proceedings.
Their efforts are funded by federal and foundation grants, and community support.
Their core services are forensic interviews and medical exams, but this child-focused house is also looking forward to offering parenting classes and other programs with this expansion.