A former State College schools superintendent, a local police chief and two child psychologists are among the nine local people to form the board of the Centre County Childrens Advocacy Center.
The formation of the board of directors is the latest step in the quickly developing advocacy center, which will be a place where child crime victims are interviewed by trained professionals.
The centers goal is to reduce the trauma a child experiences when being interviewed by multiple people in multiple places.
Organizers are homing in on a site possibly on South Fraser Street in State College.
Centers exist in other parts of central Pennsylvania, such as in Brookville, Danville and Hershey, and local authorities have wanted a facility in Centre County for some time.
The advocacy center here is a direct result of community leaders looking to find ways to better protect children in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case, in which the former Penn State coach was convicted of molesting 10 boys, six of whom were from Centre County.
The momentum for the advocacy center grew out of the first community initiative --the Centre County Child Protection and Safety Collaborative.
One of the goals of the collaborative was the center and the other is educating the public about abuse and prevention measures.
The advocacy centers board consists of the two organizers: Judge Bradley P. Lunsford, who is the lead organizer, and District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller. The other seven are:
Pamela McCloskey and Peter Montminy, child psychologists;
Patricia Best, retired superintendent of State College Area School District;
Tom King, State College police chief;
Julia Cronin Rater, a lawyer for McQuaide Blasko whose specializations include family law;
Dawn McKee, a special projects coordinator for the Centre County Womens Resource Center; and
Jack Infield, regional president of Susquehanna Bank.
McCloskey, a psychologist in private practice who is also certified as a forensic interviewier, has provided therapy for more than 30 years to children who have been sexually abused. She said she first proposed the idea of a childrens advocacy center here in 1991 but didnt have enough support.
Now, shes elated that the idea is moving toward becoming a reality.
I am sorry that it took this tragedy to increase our communitys awareness of the number of victims of sexual abuse in this area and their needs as well as the needs of their families, but I am also selfishly delighted, she said. As we increase awareness, parents will begin to talk to their children more openly about sex, sexuality, privacy, boundaries and safety and as communication about this issue continues the number of victims will decrease.
Lunsford expects the board members to have visible, public roles as part of their commitments.
I found individuals who are willing and unafraid to offer a variety of opinions, Lunsford said. Above all else, I wanted board members who are advocates of children and who can envision this process through the eyes of a child.
Organizers are looking at leasing 410 S. Fraser St. to house the advocacy center. Lunsford and Parks Miller were among a group of people who toured the three-story building last week. The building most recently served as the offices for the Centre County Youth Service Bureau and is across the street from State College Area School Districts Fair-mount Avenue school building that houses its Delta program.
Organizers hope to raise $2 million and have the center operational within a year.
Mike Dawson can be reached at 231-4616. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDawsonCDT