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A Word in Edgewise

By Commissioner Tim Norton

November 18, 2014

This past week the Board of County Commissioners voted 4-0 to invest a million dollars in the renovation of the former Lincoln Elementary school in to a one-stop, multi-disciplinary Child Advocacy Center. This action indicates the dedication of the Commission to serving the victims and families of child abuse and neglect in our community. And reveals our support for the law enforcement, prosecutors, investigators, social workers, medical professionals, etc. that deal with the upwards to 4000 cases a year with unfortunately the potential for many more. Both Sheriff Jeff Easter and District Attorney Marc Bennett have been loyal and vocal proponents for the need of this facility.

Several months ago I was able to participate in an exciting announcement for our community and for the future of children. A press conference was held at the former Lincoln Elementary school to announce the capital campaign to re-purpose, upgrade and re-vitalize that facility to the new Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County. It was a bell weather day for the ongoing mission and positive outcomes of this umbrella organization that works so hard with the District Attorney’s office, the Exploited and Missing Child Unit, the Internet Crimes Against Children’s team, the Human Trafficking group, the Department for Children and Families. and other government and non-profit groups.

Diana Schunn and her board are continuing to advocate and work hard to take this system working for abused and neglected children to a new level of service provision and collaboration. District Attorney Marc Bennett and pediatrician Dr. Kathyrn Melhorn both spoke at the announcement about their years of work with abused and neglected kids in our community. While they described the gut-wretching work that has been done, they also described the imperative for new facilities, co-location of all the key players and the importance of this kind of multi-disciplinary entity in creating the most effective and efficient system to deal with this pervasive and complicated issue in our community.

The board of the Child Advocacy Center has taken all the appropriate steps to realize their expanded mission and future vision for a stand-alone facility. They are engaging community leaders. They have developed ideas and plans of what the new footprint at the Lincoln location would look like. They are defining staffing and co-location partners.

I am proud that the Commission had the foresight to help make the Center happen. $500,000 of the total needed was pledged by the Mabee Foundation in the form of a challenge grant that was announced earlier this year. The Junior League of Wichita has stepped up and committed to a $300,000 donation. They have also launched a terrific website (www.childabusewichita.org) to shine a light on child abuse and neglect and to highlight the variety of agencies and organizations that deal with this insidious issue. And finally there all the private donors that have stepped up.

Now there is an imperative to raise the rest of this money. Just a little over a million. The sooner the final money is raised the quicker the shovels are in the ground. There is an ongoing mission and community need that will be served by this project. We expect safety for our kids and know full well that they hold our greatest hope for the future. But that demands a commitment of time, energy, political will, community awareness and action, and money.

I challenge all who read this to find out more about child abuse and neglect and the insidious ways that it affects families, children and our society. I urge everyone to understand the prevalence of internet crimes against children. I implore our community to recognize the rise of human trafficking and the adverse affects on our community and region. These underpinnings of abuse in our society and the harm that latent, un-addressed, un-resolved or un-reported abuse has on the lives of future adults makes for a compelling case for this new facility that brings to bear all the agencies and professionals that work tirelessly to protect and nurture our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

I am dedicated to helping make this facility and system improvement a reality in our community. I hope you will join me and make a personal contribution or encourage your workplace, church or philanthropic group or foundation to make a commitment. If you want more information on how you can be involved contact me at tnorton@sedgwick.gov.

Thanks for letting me get a word in edgewise.

T.N.

Video Files

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
GraceMed - With David Sandford
September 26, 2014 - 18 min

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
Project Access - With Anne Nelson and Jon Rosell
September 15, 2014 - 16 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
Sedgwick County Zoo Elephant Exhibit - With Scott Ochs and Mark Reed
September 10, 2014 - 17 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
Wichita State University - With John Bardo
March 11, 2014 - 15 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
Child Advocacy Center - With Diana Schunn and Marc Bennett
March 11, 2014 - 18 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
City-to-City - With Suzy Finn and Taylor Gill
October 25, 2013 - 14 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
City-to-City - With Janet Miller and Jon Rosell
October 18, 2013 - 20 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
FIT Wichita - With Mim McKenzie and Claudia Blackburn
October 9, 2013 - 15 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
Visioneering - With Sam Williams and Ron Holt
October 1, 2013 - 15 min.

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
with Jan Luth about Star Wars at Exploration Place
May 23, 2012

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
With 5th District Commissioner Jim Skelton
January 26, 2012

"A Word in Edgewise" Video
With Commissioners Richard Ranzau and Tim Norton
January 19, 2011 - 17 min.


Sedgwick County...working for you

Mission: To assure quality public services that provide for the present and future well-being of the citizens of Sedgwick County.