PHILADELPHIA (September 11th, 2020) – Philadelphia area legislators convened virtually to attend The Philadelphia Children Alliance’s 10th Annual Legislative Briefing today, where the city’s child advocacy center updated local leaders on the challenges, victories, and changes they have experienced while providing services to victims of child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Philadelphia Children’s [SM1] Alliance (PCA) Interim Executive Director Paul DiLorenzo was joined by Philadelphia SVU Captain Mark Bergman as well as the Philadelphia Department of Health and Human Services [SM2] Department. These organizations work together from the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative, a co-located child-friendly facility where children receive victim support, counseling services and forensic interviews under one roof.
“Our partnership allows the Special Victims Unit to work simultaneously with PCA to protect and advocate for the city’s most vulnerable children,” Capt. Bergman of the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit said. “Through the COVID-19 crisis, our organizations have taken every step to ensure children in need can always find a safe haven at our co-located facility. I am glad to be able to provide updates on this important work with our city’s leaders today, and I look forward to continuing this partnership into the future.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCA has adapted to continue its work, ensuring that victims in Philadelphia always have somewhere to turn. When the initial COVID-19 lock-down went into effect in March, PCA staff worked relentlessly to continue virtual outreach to families. Thanks to significant technical upgrades, PCA has continued to see new cases in instances of sexual abuse or assaults that have occurred within the last 72 hours; incidences where there is an alleged perpetrator in custody; child abductions; child witness to homicide; in addition to providing valuable counseling services. Though operations changed, PCA’s doors were never closed to the children of Philadelphia.
“Through the significant challenges of a global pandemic, PCA staff have responded to repeated emergency cases, stopping their lives to welcome children into our offices when most people are sleeping in the comfort of their homes,” PCA Interim Executive Director Paul DiLorenzo said, “We will continue to dedicate ourselves to advocating for victims of abuse. Our work is never easy but knowing we can make a difference is a powerful reward.”
The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance is the sole agency in the City of Philadelphia equipped to provide a collaborative response to more than 3,000 reports of child sexual abuse each year. In the past year, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and co-located partners conducted 1,688 forensic interviews, with 1,791 caregivers receiving victim advocacy. 156 children received mental health therapy on-site, and an additional 1,230 children were linked with trauma-focused therapy at mental health partner agencies throughout Philadelphia. In 2019, 517 children received medical evaluations on-site by pediatric abuse specialists from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Philadelphia Children’s Alliance is committed to a building safe and healthy environment for all of the city’s children, no matter the circumstances.
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The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance is an independent non-profit organization that promotes healing and justice for sexually abused children in Philadelphia. Using a multidisciplinary approach, we collaborate with our partners in child protection, law enforcement, and medical and mental health services to provide forensic interviews, victim support and counseling services at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative, a co-located child-friendly facility.