The Department of Children and Families (DCF) of New Jersey has announced that it will contribute $2.5 million in seed funds to establish a Child Treatment Assistance Fund for juvenile survivors and perpetrators of child-on-child sexual abuse or assault, as well as their families.
Regional Diagnostic and Treatment Centers, which provide a comprehensive approach to evaluating, treating, and preventing physical and emotional injuries caused by child abuse, and Child Advocacy Centers, which offer a multi-disciplinary array of services from DCF, law enforcement, victim advocates, medical and mental health professionals in child- and family-friendly environments, will administer the programme.
Child-on-child sexual abuse or assault is a major issue that affects many children without the presence or approval of a carer, and is frequently the consequence of coercion or of physical, mental, or chronological mismatch. The funds from this investment will be used to provide medical and mental health services to affected children and families.
According to statistics, 40% of individuals who sexually abuse or assault children under the age of six and 39% of those who sexually abuse or assault children aged six to eleven are themselves adolescents. With proper treatment and care, the majority of juvenile offenders do not reoffend.
The Child-on-Child Sexual Abuse (COCSA) Response Statewide Workgroup was established in February 2022 to identify new coordination and collaboration strategies for these instances. Experts in child abuse, including physicians, psychologists, DCF and DCPP leadership, prosecutors, Child Advocacy Center leaders, and child advocates, comprise the Workgroup. After months of meetings, discussions, and deliberation, recommendations were made, including the establishment of a Child Treatment Assistance Fund.
In addition to the Child Treatment Assistance Fund, the budget for Fiscal Year 2023 includes $2.1 million for Child Advocacy Centers to provide clinical case management services to families seeking assistance in identifying treatment services for their children following an incident of sexual abuse between two children.
Families seeking assistance will be connected with a county-based Clinical Case Manager staffed by Regional Diagnostic and Treatment Centers and/or mental health agencies, depending on which provides the greatest access for the family. The clinical case managers will remain active in the case until all necessary services have been provided to the family.
With this effort, New Jersey is taking a huge step towards assisting child survivors and perpetrators of sexual abuse, providing them with much-needed support and care to assist in their healing and recovery.
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