'Pinwheels For Prevention' Awards

Published: Friday, May 11, 2012

TORRINGTON—The Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwest Connecticut (CAIT NW), a program of The Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Center for Youth and Families, recently held its fifth annual “Pinwheels for Prevention” Child Abuse Prevention Recognition Awards Ceremony at the Torrington Elks Lodge.

The event is held annually to bring together and recognize professionals working with children in the Northwest Corner, their co-workers, family members, and friends. The event highlights Child Abuse Prevention Month and services for area children who have been victims of child abuse. The concept of “pinwheels,” which represent the carefree nature of children, was created in Ohio to help bring attention to child abuse and neglect and remind people of the collective responsibility everyone shares to ensuring their safety.

The keynote speaker for this year’s breakfast event was Dr. William Petit from the Petit Family Foundation. In 2011 the Petit Family Foundation provided the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital Center for Youth and Families Child Advocacy Center with funding to support a new position in which a parent would be on staff as an additional resource for families struggling to heal from abuse. Dr. Petit spoke on the importance of parents being active in the healing process and the importance of moving from victim to survivor.

The CYF Parent Partner is one of the first positions of its kind to be housed by a Child Advocacy Center. Its parent partner has children who experienced sexual abuse and all successfully completed trauma focused therapy to aid in the healing process. She offers insight and support to families who fear that the healing process is impossible.

During the awards ceremony, four professionals were honored for their dedication and commitment to protecting children in Litchfield County: Bob Kauffman of Bob’s Discount Furniture received the Lifetime Achievement Award given to individuals who have shown a dedication to the protection and oversight of children who have been abused or are at risk of being exposed to the many types of abuse. Mr. Kaufman has provided donations and his time to number of charitable organizations. This past year his donated furniture to the CAIT NW team for the forensic interview space located at the Center for Youth and Families.

Geraldine Menn of the Juvenile Courts received the Judicial Award given to individuals in the court system who have shown a special desire and dedication to victims and families of child abuse. Ms. Menn has worked for the past 15 years in the juvenile justice system and is currently a child protection contract attorney through the Office of Chief Public Defender, representing children, parents, and delinquent youth. She has been recognized as a great support to families within the juvenile justice system.

Louise Brockway, LMFT, received the CHH Center for Youth and Families Professionals Award presented to a dedicated expert who has displayed compassion for and commitment to children above and beyond that of her peers. Ms. Brockway shows passion for children and families experiencing abuse. She is a full-time clinician at the Center for Youth and Families where she focuses on children experiencing trauma. She is trained in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and has spent years working with children throughout Connecticut.

Dr. Lawrence Lee, a pediatric dentist, received the Community Service Award given to community members who have unselfishly helped children in either a professional or personal setting, showing a strong desire to make the quality of children’s lives better. Dr. Lee, of Torrington, has been a supporter to the CAIT NW team and has donated his time and knowledge during the CT CHIPS event held annually by the team.

The Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwest Connecticut is a multi-disciplinary group that coordinates the activities of the agencies involved in child abuse case investigation throughout the region. Formed in 1997, the team includes representatives from the state and local police departments, Connecticut Department of Children and Families, CHH Center for Youth & Families, Northwest Center for Family Service & Mental Health, Connecticut Office of Victim Services, Connecticut State’s Attorney’s Office, Connecticut Juvenile Court, Susan B. Anthony Project, and area pediatricians and mental health professionals.

The team meets regularly to discuss child abuse cases that occur in Northwest Connecticut. The team identifies system needs and works cooperatively to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases with the goal of improving protection of child victims from further abuse and trauma. Continued...

“Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor or family friend, almost everyone has a child in their life that they care about and want to see happy and healthy. We encourage people to think about how they can help protect the children in their lives and community,” said Joan Neveski, LCSW, clinical manager for The Center For Youth and Families Child Advocacy Center.

For more details on any of the above programs, please contact the Center for Youth & Families at 860-489-3391.

The Child Abuse Investigation Team of Northwest Connecticut is one of several program and services offered at the CHH for Youth and Families Child Advocacy Center. Other services offered include SAFE assessments for children, Connections support for children with autism, Nuestra Comunidad counseling in Spanish, Charlotte’s Place victim services program, Bridges Extended Day Treatment Facility after school program, Foster Care Clinic, and outpatient mental health services for children up to age 18 years and their families.