VALLEY CENTER TREATS YOUNG ABUSE VICTIMS; FACILITY CENTRALIZES RESPONSES.
For the first time, San Fernando Valley child abuse victims have a place where they can receive physical, emotional and legal help under one roof, officials said Wednesday.
``We can collect the information and the evidence and have a relationship with the child, which is established with one social worker and establishes a trust,'' said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who attended its official opening Wednesday.
The center, called SCAN, Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect center, operates within the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and has been open since September, helping more than 120 victims of suspected abuse and neglect so far.
Children that may have been physically or sexually abused are given special dolls that social workers use to get them to describe what happened, said Nadine Miranda, SCAN's social worker.
The assessment, followed by a physical examination by doctors specializing in child abuse, allows officials to act quickly.
The one-stop abuse center provides parents, teachers and other officials a resource to have suspected abuse cases checked out.
The program is modeled after the County USC Violence and Prevention Program.
``It's something we're very concerned about - the extent to which child abuse is spreading in our country and county in particular,'' Yaroslavsky said.
County officials said 50 percent of all referrals are for physical and sexual abuse. The center handles an average of 30 cases a month, said Stephanie Johnson, the program administrator.
Before the SCAN center opened, children living in the Valley faced either a long drive downtown or had to endure several interviews with county officials who often asked the same questions.
The SCAN center aims to do away with the replication of services and tries to make the experience as easy for the child as possible.
The center also hopes to improve apprehension of abusers by garnering pertinent details as quickly as possible after the incident happens.
``We try to get to them when the victim's recollection is keenest and freshest,'' Yaroslavsky said.
``They try to restore the child's psyche and deal with the perpetrator at the same time. That's the two-pronged approach to the SCAN center.''
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., but officials expect it to move to 24 hours soon.