Assessing and supporting child victims of suspected sexual assault and educating children and the community to prevent such assaults.
It all started in 1991 with a young girl in a yellow dress. She looked a bit sad, a bit lonely, a bit out of place. As Chief of Police Bill Hegarty walked through the Grand Rapids Police Department that day, the little girl caught his eye. As he looked at her, he saw something that many of the others missed as they rushed past her that day. He saw much more than a young girl out of place, he saw a young girl who was scared.
When Chief Hegarty discovered that she was there to be interviewed as part of an investigation into child sexual abuse, he thought about that scared look in her eyes. In that moment, he knew that something must be done.
Chief Hegarty went home that night, sat down with a pen and a legal pad, and wrote down his thoughts about how that little girl should have been treated. He wrote about how she should have had a place to go where she felt welcomed. A place that would have adults who knew how to interview children and help them heal from their abuse. A place like the Children’s Assessment Center. He went on to gather a group of people who would work together over the next two years to make his plan a reality. The Children’s Assessment Center opened its doors to our first client in 1993.
This year at the Children’s Assessment Center, nearly 800 children, who may have been sexually abused, will receive all of the services they might need. All of our services are available on site, and every family has access to any of the services they need, free of charge, every time.
Parents can call the Center to request Assessment Services if they have concerns about a child’s behavior, questions about normal development, or for support if they believe their child might have been sexually abused. If a child has disclosed sexual abuse, parents should call Children’s Protective Services or their local Law Enforcement immediately.