Center marks 10 years of aiding abused children


January 07, 2002|By Karen Nitkin | Karen Nitkin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT'S A SHAME that places like the Listening Place are needed at all.

The center, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last month, offers services to children who have been physically or sexually abused. Last year, the center saw 504 children and investigated 327 cases, said Melissa McDermott Lane, the program's manager for the past two years.

Some of the cases involved the treatment of more than one child, including some who had been witnesses to abuse, she said.

Located on Rogers Avenue in Ellicott City, the Listening Place represents the collaboration of several organizations, including county police, health and social services, and the state's attorney's office.

"Our role is to investigate allegations of child maltreatment and then work for proper intervention," Lane said.

The center, which was expanded about five years ago, is decorated in a child-friendly way, Lane said. "We have a little-kid room, a medium-kid room and a big-kid room," she said.

Children age 18 and younger can go to the center for investigative interviews, medical exams and other services. Lane said the interviews are videotaped so the videos can be circulated through the system, rather than forcing the children to endure repeated questioning.

Before the Listening Place was created, such services were not coordinated. Children could fall through the cracks or miss opportunities for help, Lane said.

She acknowledges the work can be depressing but said that "one of the nice things about having people work together is you get the support and camaraderie."

There have been many changes in the 10 years the Listening Place has been in existence. The center now puts together more printed resources. New research on child mistreatment is continually incorporated. "My list is constantly going of what we need to do and create," Lane said.

Her next goal is getting the screener from the Department of Social Services to relocate to the Listening Place. That person fields requests and determines what services are needed. Lane also is working to create a stronger sex offender intervention program.

She also hopes to add another detective and two more social workers to the center's 23-person staff.

One unfortunate change at the Listening Place is that the caseload always seems to be getting larger. One reason for the increase might be that more people are aware of child abuse and are more likely to report it, Lane said.

That means more kids who need treatment are able to get it, she said.

Fund-raising bricks

Howard High School seniors, who will be the 50th class to graduate from the Ellicott City school, are selling memorial bricks as a fund-raiser, said Whitney Amato, treasurer and fund-raiser for the senior board. (Each class has a board of student officers.)

The bricks, which sell for $25 each, are large enough to hold up to three lines of type, with as many as 15 characters per line. The bricks will be used to lay a path around the fountain in the outdoor area known as the senior courtyard.

Once the bricks are laid, a ceremony will be held sometime in the spring, Amato said.

The bricks are expected to be on sale until the end of next month. To order a brick: Grant Scott, 410-313-2867, or e-mail HHSbrick

Young artists

The art of Alex Krew and Henry Heck, who attend Centennial Lane Elementary School, will be included in an exhibit at the Department of Education through Friday.

Students from all over the county were asked to submit portraits of their art teachers. The works of Alex, a fourth-grader, and Henry, a first-grader, will be displayed alongside portraits from other students.

Winter at the library

Local libraries offer several activities designed to take the chill out of winter. On Saturdays from Jan. 12 to Feb. 23, the Elkridge branch library will offer fireside tales for elementary-age children and their families. Children can hear stories and enjoy hot chocolate and a snack. The event is from 3:30 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. No registration is required.

The Miller branch library will offer a series on "Icy Science," with stories, games and experiments for children age 6 and older. The program will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Jan. 17, and from 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Jan. 18. Registration is required one week before the start of the program. Registration: 410- 313-1955.

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