WOOD COUNTY, W.Va. — A first for West Virginia could hit the road as soon as August.
The Children’s Listening Place, a child advocacy center based Parkersburg, is the new owner of an RV that’s currently being renovated so it can be used as a mobile child advocacy center serving kids in four counties: Wood, Ritchie, Pleasants and Wirt.
Currently, abuse investigations in those counties require travel to Parkersburg.
With the RV, “We’re going to be able to go to the counties that we serve and do forensic interviews on the children where abuse is suspected,” said Lisa Sutton, executive director for The Children’s Listening Place Child Advocacy Center.
“Sometimes transportation gets in the way and parents have a hard time getting to us, so we want to be able to bring the child advocacy center to the child.”
Sutton said the RV would also help prosecutors, law enforcement officers and Child Protective Services workers involved in child abuse investigations.
“So now we’re not going to be taking our teams from their county where they’re needed,” she said.
The Children’s Listening Place is one of more than 20 child advocacy centers offering community-based, child-friendly services to families affected by abuse across West Virginia.
No other child advocacy center in West Virginia has such a mobile unit, though they are used in other states.
Once in operation, the RV for The Children’s Listening Place will be set up at child-friendly locations throughout the four counties.
On board will be a soundproof interview room, an observation room and a family waiting room.
The 2015 RV, a 39-foot RV with 40,000 miles on it, was purchased with grant funding from the Sisters of St. Joseph Health and Wellness Foundation in Wheeling, the Sisters of St. Joseph Foundation in Parkersburg and a local community foundation.
Sutton said the project also had support from the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network.
“We’re very excited. We’re hoping some of the other child advocacy centers follow our footsteps in the state so we can make sure that the whole state has access to a child advocacy center,” Sutton said.