For over 20 years, Hope Haven Children’s Advocacy Center in Waveland has played a vital role in serving abused and neglected children on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
News 25’s Caroline Eaker spoke with members of the advocacy group about their continuing efforts to prevent any type of child abuse.
Blue pinwheels stuck in the ground help symbolize April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, but for the staff at Hope Haven Children’s Advocacy Center fighting child abuse is a constant and daily battle. Executive Director Jay Trapani said, “One of the biggest things we do is interview children who have been abused. Last year, we did 298 interviews. It’s a bad problem in Hancock County.”
Hope Haven provides critical services to children and families facing child sex or physical abuse as well as services to children who are witnesses to violent crimes. Family Advocate Donna Foster said, “We are here to meet the needs of the families.”
Forensic interviewer Kaitlin Jewell plays a crucial role in the process of helping a child find justice. “We go into the interview room and I ask them questions. They’re non-leading questions, just to find out the child’s story.”
The center offers many other free services which all aim to give victims a voice in the face of trauma, a task for advocates which can be just as challenging as it is rewarding.