Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center Launches Monumental Campaign to Transform Child Abuse Treatment in the Lowcountry

New Mount Pleasant center and redesigned King Street center will enable the child advocacy center to double the number of children and families it serves

Charleston, S.C, May 12, 2017 – Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center today announced an initiative that will improve every aspect of child abuse treatment while doubling the number of children it can serve to help them heal from the effects of abuse.

“Not since the founding of the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center 26 years ago has the Lowcountry seen such an opportunity to transform the treatment of child abuse in our community,” said Dr. Carole C. Swiecicki, Dee Norton’s executive director and CEO. “Children can, and do, heal from the effects of abuse as long as they receive the proper care. Yet, there are children right here in our community that are being underserved. We must change that.”

Advancements in both capacity and operations will be made possible by Above and Beyond: The Campaign to Help Children Soar. The $5 million campaign was announced publicly for the first time today with $3 million already pledged.

The campaign will enable Dee Norton to open a second, full-service center. Located on Long Point road in Mount Pleasant, the new facility will serve an area of urgent need and have the capacity to treat 1,500 children each year.

The Center will also redesign the King Street location by the end of 2018. Using lean methodology in the design of both centers, twice as many children in Charleston and Berkeley counties will be able to receive critical treatment from highly trained professionals. Visit times will be cut in half, reducing the emotional stress for children and their families.

An influential group of community benefactors is leading the way towards improved and expanded care for child victims of abuse. The Rice family made the campaign’s lead gift with a $1 million contribution.  “We are passionate about advocating for victims of child abuse,” explained Lisa Rice.  “Our children are our future. We need to shine a light on the issue so that people understand that child abuse happens across every demographic.”

Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group, was an early investor in the campaign. Her generous gift of $500,000 demonstrates her continuing dedication to the wellbeing of children.

The Medical Society’s Roper St. Francis Physicians Endowment is investing in the health of the Lowcountry’s children with a $500,000 challenge, dollar for dollar match, and an additional $500,000 when that goal is met. CEO John Holloway explained, “The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center delivers on its mission, and we are pleased to offer this challenge to encourage the community to take part. Our investment in expanding services will pay dividends for our entire region as the cycle of abuse is broken through evidence-based treatment.” The Roper St. Francis Physicians Endowment provides direct resources to support health and wellness within the tri-county, and the Center’s campaign squarely fills that purpose.

Please click here to view a high-res image of the rendering: https://spaces.hightail.com/space/IuhCxgouup.

Serving an urgent need in the Lowcountry

Plans for the Center’s expansion come after extensive strategic analysis by the organization’s leadership. Research indicates that in areas east of the Cooper River, the Center serves only an estimated 36 percent of children suffering from abuse. On Daniel Island and in Cainhoy, only 21 percent are served. An East Cooper facility will improve accessibility for these populations.

Increased capacity will also keep pace with Lowcountry growth. Today, nearly 6,000 children in Charleston and Berkeley Counties are abused each year, a number that is expected to double over the next 20 years as our population grows. The Center’s capacity for forensic interviews—the starting point for healing—is currently only 1,560 children annually.

The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center has treated more than 26,000 children since opening in 1991. When the expansion is completed, the Center will be positioned to meet the projected need and help up to 72,000 children over the next 20 years. The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center’s level of care is so effective that more than 90 percent of children show no clinically significant trauma symptoms after treatment. A successful campaign will ensure that services are available to those children.

Without intervention, the lifetime cost of untreated abuse to the community is $210,012 per child (Fang et al., 2012) in healthcare costs, social programs and lost productivity. Research shows that children who do not receive treatment are more likely to commit crimes, live in poverty and commit suicide.

As one of the first five accredited children’s advocacy centers in the nation, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center pioneered the multidisciplinary approach that is now used by more than 800 centers. The Center coordinates a multi-disciplinary team of law enforcement, prosecutors, school officials, social workers and therapists. The team meets weekly to assess each child’s progress towards healing.

Campaign chairs Caroline and Harry Johnson invite the public to join them in investing in the health and safety of youth by helping more children heal from the effects of abuse. To learn more about the Above and Beyond campaign, please call Beverly Hutchison at 843.723.3600.

About Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center

The Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center is the region’s leading resource to help prevent child abuse, to protect abused and traumatized children, and to put children and their families on the path to healing. Primary services include forensic interviews, medical examinations and mental health assessments as well as immediate support and coordination. The center also provides evidence-based therapy to child victims and their families. For more information, visit www.deenortoncenter.org.