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Children’s Listening Place continues work despite pandemic

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 9:47 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - After decades of law enforcement in Parkersburg and helping children in need, Greg Collins is stepping in as the new executive director of the children’s listening place.

A child abuse center that he will be the first to speak highly of.

“Well, what we provide, it’s the best kept secret in the Valley. Coming from a career in law enforcement, I’m amazed daily at the people don’t know who we are and what we do,” says Greg Collins.

The facility is a non-profit that helps children that have been abused.

It provides resources such as health insurance, therapy, food stamps, and much more through their family advocacy program.

“The angle is just to make sure that they have everything that they need,” says center’s family advocate, Marissah Buracchio. “To help them live their lives in the way and the manner that they should.”

Ensuring the safety and well-being of children with state-of-the-art equipment in its examination room.

“With the help of grant funding we were able to purchase the CortexFlo. It allows us to take high quality photographic injuries that are sustained from child abuse. And those pictures can be used in court if it goes that way,” says assistant director, Julie Nutter.

Coordinating with local law enforcement, child protective services and the prosecuting attorney’s office in the counties they fully serve.

“Those connections are everything,” says forensic interviewer and family advocate, Abby Pifer. “We discuss each of our cases every month to ensure that no child falls through the cracks.”

And, creating a safe environment for children during forensic interviews.

“We spend a lot of time in here getting to know the child. We talk about things that make them happy, things that they like to do for fun,” says forensic interviewer, Allie Hammer. “We really try to get to know them, make them feel comfortable and we spend a lot of time on that.”

All of these functions are what had to keep going despite the pandemic.

Including seeing a 22 percent increase in cases in 2020 (602) from 2019 (494), and another 153 as of April 5th.

“We had to continue to provide for the kids. Provide services for CPS and law enforcement,” says Collins. “So, we could get these offenders or would-be offenders in jail if necessary.”

It’s all of this work that has the new executive director showering the staff with high praise during this difficult time.

Collins says, “This staff fought through all that and continued to perform stellarly. And actually, it’s pretty unbelievable what they were able to accomplish with COVID and their restrictions. We still provided for all the children, in all the counties.”

If you see any sign of child abuse, the children’s listening place says to contact 911 immediately.

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