Updated: May 27, 2020
By: Shannon McLaughlin, Associate
Philadelphia Children’s Alliance Marks 30 years of Advocacy and Support for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse
In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, PCA continues to adapt to protect children at risk
PHILADELPHIA (May 1, 2020) - Over the past three decades, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA) effectively changed how sexually abused children are protected and cared for by offering age-appropriate forensic interviews, mental health screening and therapy to all sexually abused youths who walk through its doors. Now more than ever, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance continues its work promoting healing and justice for some of the city’s most vulnerable during a global pandemic -- when children are at increased risk because family members are isolated in their homes.
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 facility partners conducted 1,688 forensic interviews, with 1,791 caregivers receiving victim advocacy. A total of 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).
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PCA has adapted to continue its work, ensuring that victims in Philadelphia always have somewhere to turn. PCA is working on cases that are already in its system, has significantly upgraded its technology to stay in contact with kids and families, and continues to provide valuable counseling services. Importantly, PCA is seeing new cases in instances of sexual abuse or assaults that have occurred within the last 72 hours; incidents where there is an alleged perpetrator in custody; child abductions, or a child witness to homicide.
"Over the past three decades, PCA has done incredible work for our community and are staunch advocates for children."
In January 2020, Interim Executive Director Paul DiLorenzo took the reins of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance from former executive director Chris Kirchner. DiLorenzo’s vision includes a community-based approach to prevent abuse by tackling systemic failures and multi-generational cycles of abuse. DiLorenzo comes to PCA after serving as Senior Director for Strategic Consulting at Casey Family Programs for the past 13 years. He brings four decades of experience in child welfare to this role, and is an accomplished leader of non-profit, government and philanthropic organization. “I am proud to have Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a national best standards model for peer agencies nationwide, located in the 7th Council District and serving Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Philadelphia City Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez. “Over the past three decades, PCA has done incredible work for our community and are staunch advocates for children. During this most troubling time, the team at PCA serves an example of how we can protect and support our must vulnerable children.“
In 2013, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, along with the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, Philadelphia Police Special Victims Unit, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office all moved into one facility, with partner locations for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. This facility, known as the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative, provides a victim-centered response to all children in Philadelphia who have been sexually abused. All six organizations are dedicated to working together to provide justice and healing for sexually abused children, ending the cycle of abuse, protecting children who have experienced sex trafficking, and improving the quality of abuse investigations.
Philadelphia Children’s Alliance continues to advocate for a healthy and safe environment for all of the city’s children, and urges Philadelphians to act as watchdogs for abuse in their communities during this challenging time.
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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.