Valley Children’s Advocacy Center welcomes a new facility dog
The Valley Children’s Advocacy Center has a new full-time staff member: four legs, covered in fur, but as essential as her co-workers.
Naia is a Canine Companions-trained facility and support dog that provides comfort and a sense of calmness to the children and families that visit the CAC in the midst of their crisis and chaos.
Naia works directly with our victims and families alongside Kim Myers, who is the Center’s family advocate coordinator and forensic interviewer.
A 2-year-old golden retriever/black lab mix who has been in extensive training since she was eight weeks old, Naia graduated from Canine Companions for Independence (www.cci.org) on July 1 after two intensive weeks of training with professional Canine Companions to be able to provide the utmost care and support to victims and families.
Since 1975, Canine Companions has bred, raised, and expertly trained assistance dogs in over 40 commands designed to assist people with disabilities or to motivate and inspire clients with special needs. The breeding, training and ongoing support for each dog costs approximately $50,000, but Naia was provided at no cost to Valley CAC.
“Just in the short time Naia has been here with us, she has made such a huge difference in the time the victims and families spend here. There are more smiles and much more comfort, and Naia is loving all the hugs from her new little friends she is making” Myers said.
No one said it better than the 6 year old girl that just came out of her forensic interview, teary eyed and hopeful, “Thank you, Naia, for helping me feel better and safe.”
The Valley Children’s Advocacy Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that follows the National Child Advocacy Center model when dealing with child victims of abuse, assault or sexual abuse. As a nationally-accredited child advocacy center, the agency promotes a coordinated response between law enforcement, prosecutors, victims, witnesses, Child Protective Service workers, and medical and mental health professionals to ensure that needs of child victims are met. In the neutral setting of the CAC, team members can collaborate on strategies that could aid investigators and prosecutors without causing further stress, harm, or trauma to the victim.
This innovative, multidisciplinary approach significantly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome in court and long-term healing for the child.
For more information on the Valley Children’s Advocacy Center or Naia, contact: Charle’ Johnson, Education and Outreach Coordinator, at 540-213-0592.
To report child abuse, contact the Virginia Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-552-7096.