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House Speaker Paul Ryan visits Children’s Walworth County Child Advocacy Center

March 18, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan visits Children’s Walworth County Child Advocacy Center
House Speaker Paul Ryan toured the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center in Elkhorn on March 18. He met with leaders, including Children's President and CEO Peggy Troy (right of Ryan), to learn more about the importance of child advocacy work

Elkhorn – During a home visit to his Congressional district on Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan visited Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Child Advocacy Center, Walworth County. Located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, the center provides a safe place for kids and families who may have been abused or witnessed violent acts, to get medical care.  Speaker Ryan toured the center and met with Children’s leaders to learn more about the importance of child advocacy work in his district and throughout the state.

Children’s operates seven child advocacy centers and two medical satellite offices in Wisconsin, making it the largest hospital based child advocacy center operator in the nation. Child advocacy centers bring together a team of specially trained professionals who evaluate and investigate cases of child abuse and help children and their families. In 2015, Children’s supported more than 7,000 children at centers in Milwaukee, Eau Claire, Winnebago, Kenosha, Marathon, Racine and Walworth counties.

"Children’s dedication to kids goes so far beyond our hospitals," said Peggy Troy, president and CEO of Children’'. "Kids who have been victims of violence or abuse need a safe, supportive environment with staff members who are experts in child well-being and development, just like kids in our hospital need expert doctors who can treat cancer or fix a heart defect. This is really important work, and supports our efforts to stop the cycle of violence."

If not addressed, abuse can have a long-term impact on the emotional and physical development of kids, according to Amy Herbst, Children’s vice president of Child Welfare, "Abuse and violence impacts brain development. Without support, kids who have been victims are more likely to suffer from long term emotional difficulties and cognitive deficits."

To counteract the impact of abuse, each advocacy center collaborates with community organizations to support kids and their families, including law enforcement, Child Protective Services, forensic interviewers, doctors, advocates, mental health professionals and legal representation. This work is partially supported through federal funding, in addition to philanthropic support.

"Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Child Advocacy Centers do vital work in our community. By serving families and children who were victims of violence, Children's offers a safe, supportive environment as well as effective advocacy and outreach efforts," said Ryan. "Children's mission is to provide real care, and they do just that. They are among the leading pediatric health care centers in the country, and I am proud to have them call Wisconsin home."

The advocacy center in Elkhorn is a partnership with the Walworth County Alliance for Children. The center is known as the Tree House and was designed to look more like a home than an office building. The atmosphere helps create a sense of safety and security for children. The space is also used as a community meeting space for schools, civic groups, law enforcement, churches and other service organizations.

After Speaker Ryan’s visit, Troy expressed gratitude for the support provided by civic leaders. “Violence impacts the entire community, not just the individual or family. It is important that communities come together to support victims. As Speaker Ryan saw today, when we do, the positive impact is great.”

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