Child Advocacy Network assists children as pandemic continues

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – A local child advocacy center has helped children in need as they adjust to the pandemic.

The West Virginia Child Advocacy Network has released their yearly statewide data report. The Child Advocacy Network is a statewide leader in the fight against child abuse.

Between July 2019 and June 2020, they served more than 4,400 children across all of West Virginia.

Child Protect of Mercer County is a child advocacy center serving children in Southern West Virginia. Their executive director, Shiloh Woodard, says this past year has been especially difficult for children due to the pandemic.

“The pandemic has really heightened concerns for child abuse issues across the country and of course here locally because children are sort of cut off,” Woodard said. “They don’t have access to as many extracurricular activities, the way school is happening this year is a little bit different.”

Because children stay home more often, they’re less likely to get help from trusted adults if they have a bad living situation. And that has heavily highlighted the need for mental health services in the region, something which Child Protect tries to provide.

“One of the huge needs we know that is across the country and here locally is the need for quality mental health services for children and families alike right now.”

Child Protect of Mercer County offers an array of services for children in need: counseling, community education, and they also work with law enforcement to help stop child abuse. During the pandemic, they’ve taken advantage of remote services to help children 

“We’ve been able to begin using Telehealth to provide children and families with free counseling services, and we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of children receiving therapy services in the past year.” 

Between 2019 and 2020, Child Protect of Mercer County served 182 children through its Child Advocacy Center Program.