Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crisis Center Services Now in Clay Already More Cases Being Handled Locally

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Crisis Center Services Now in Clay Already More Cases Being Handled Locally

Article excerpt

GREEN COVE SPRINGS -- Helping children and families in Northeast Florida through desperate situations has always been the goal of the Children's Crisis Center in Jacksonville.

Now the non-profit agency's services are more readily available than ever before in Clay County since a satellite office was opened in Green Cove Springs five months ago.

"Our caseload has increased," said Rachael Heselschwerdt, a senior case coordinator and supervisor of the new office.

The facility provides interviews with parents and children, medical exams for kids who may have been traumatized, and assistance to police and investigators with the State Attorney's Office.

"We have the service here now, as opposed to families and investigators having to travel to Jacksonville," said Heselschwerdt.

Nancy Nolan, the Crisis Center's clinical director in Jacksonville, said the need for a separate office in Clay County had existed for years but funding became available only this year.

"We had about 400 abuse cases in Clay County last year," said Nolan, who lives in Green Cove Springs. "Our caseload is really increasing due to new reporting laws."

The new office is staffed by a case manager, three child-protection team case coordinators and a secretary. Professional consultants, including physicians and psychologists, are brought in as needed.

Cases of alleged child abuse, including sexual abuse, are referred to the center by the state Department of Children and Families for an evaluation assessment.

Caseworkers, who often work closely with law enforcement investigators, may conclude that counseling, anger control, parenting or other classes are in order, Nolan said.

"We offer multidisciplinary services: medical, psychological, social and legal," Nolan said. "We have all those people as consultants or on our staff."

If evidence of physical abuse exists, she said, the center may recommend the state remove a child from an abusive home.

"Families just run into problems and need some help sometimes," Nolan said. "It's not always the best answer for the family to remove the child."

In addition to intervention services requested by the state, the Children's Crisis Center offers programs aimed at preventing child abuse and treatment for victims who have been abused.

The new satellite office in Green Cove Springs, the only one the center has established in its nearly 21-year history, will offer convenience to families and law enforcement agencies, officials said. …

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