Under Williams’ leadership, PCA will continue leading collaborative response to cases of child sexual abuse in Philadelphia and expand community partnerships
PHILADELPHIA (August 16, 2021) - After an extensive national search, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA) today announced Benita Williams as the non-profit organization’s new Executive Director. Born, raised, and educated in Philadelphia, Williams brings three decades of experience in Philadelphia’s child welfare system to the role, most recently serving as Vice President for Community Services at Bethanna where she oversaw Community Umbrella Agency operations and part of foster care services, and previously serving as Operations Director to PCA’s valued partner, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services.
As Executive Director, Williams' deep connections to the city will advance PCA’s mission to promote healing and justice among sexually abused children using a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to strengthening children and families.
“Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and I’ve dedicated my career to supporting each neighborhood one child at a time,” said Williams. “The resources provided by PCA wrap around the entire family and strengthen communities from within. I’m so proud to join this outstanding organization and helm a dedicated staff doing such critical work.”
As the principal coordinator of the collaborative response to cases of child sexual abuse in Philadelphia, PCA leads its facility partners in providing age-appropriate forensic interviews, mental health screening and therapy to all sexually abused youth who walk through the doors of its facility at the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative.
“Since its founding, PCA has been a cornerstone for supporting youth affected by sex abuse in Philadelphia,” said Williams. “Our strategic partnerships with mental health providers, children’s healthcare institutions, and community-based services provide children with the tools they need to heal and thrive. I look forward to growing our relationships and working with our committed staff to ensure any child affected by abuse in this city can turn to PCA when they and their families need support.”
In her role as Executive Director, Williams will also oversee the PCA’s role as lead coordinator for the Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (NRCAC), a federal grant project that provides training and technical assistance to communities in the northeastern United States that are interested in developing or maintaining a Child Advocacy Center. PCA provides mentorship and serves as a national resource on the topic of child sexual abuse for regional agencies.
“Benita’s experience demonstrates her lifelong commitment to the children and communities in Philadelphia,” said PCA Board President Desiraee Davis. “I’m confident her expertise will allow us to deepen our relationships across the city, providing children and families with the support they desperately need and propelling PCA forward.”
During the COVID-19 crisis, Interim Executive Director Paul DiLorenzo steered PCA through the global pandemic at a time when children were at increased risk of abuse due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols. As a founding member of PCA over 30 years ago, DiLorenzo provided steady guidance during an unprecedented challenge for families.
“I could not be more pleased and proud of our PCA Team over these past twenty months. Because of them, PCA never faltered, and we never shut our doors to the kids and families who needed us the most,” said DiLorenzo. “Now, as we think about the future of PCA, we welcome a new Executive Director, Benita Williams. Benita is a highly accomplished and respected child welfare professional. PCA is so fortunate to have her to lead the team.”
“Coming back to PCA after so many years has been a privilege for me and it was a reminder of how critical this service is for children who have been sexually abused,” DiLorenzo added. “The agency has a remarkable tradition and I believe the best is yet to come.”
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 1,385 forensic interviews, with 1,445 caregivers receiving victim advocacy. A total of 120 children received mental health therapy on-site, and an additional 945 children were linked with trauma-focused therapy at mental health partner agencies throughout Philadelphia. In FY 2020, 651 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).
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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.