By Myrna Trauntvein
An open house for the new facility for the Juab County Children Justice Center (CJC) located in Nephi will be held on September 11.
Heather Williams-Young, CJC director, and Ryan Peters, county attorney, met with Nephi City Council members to introduce Young as the new director of the facility.
“We can still use more volunteers on our Friends of Juab County CJC board,” said Peters. “ Juliana Warner is heading that board.”
The Friends Board will help with fund-raising efforts.
“How can we be of help to you?” asked Justin Seely, mayor pro tempore.
(Seely conducted the meeting in the absence of Glade Nielsen, mayor.)
As of the first of July, the CJC in Nephi has become independent and functions for both Juab and Millard Counties.
“The building we are using was the former Juab Title and Abstract house [240 North Main Street],” said Peters. “This is not a safe house so people can know the location.”
CJC has a convenient location, and is across 200 North (and one business) to the north of being directly across from the county building where the county attorney’s office is located.
The building offers a home-like space where young victims of sexual or other types of child abuse or who have witnessed a crime can be interviewed.
“It is a calm, child-focused space,” said Young.
Prior to the creation of CJC, which came from a grass-roots movement approximately 25 years ago, children were interviewed at police headquarters, she said.
“They might feel like a criminal themselves,” said Young. “The CJC is a home-like comfortable space.”
Since November of 2017, Juab has been affiliated with the CJC in Provo. Peters said that the Provo facility and staff had been excellent to work with and had helped Juab in establishing the facility they now have.
“In that time, we have had 127 cases and have served 429 individuals,” Young said. “We are here to find how we can best support child victims.”
In July, the first month of operation, Young had already conducted three interviews.
Young is at the CJC from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Seely said that prior to the opening of the Juab County facility, young victims were transported to the Provo CJC in a police car. That kept the officer off the street for several hours.
He said that, as his career he was in social work himself and knew what was involved in making the trip to Provo and back. With the CJC so close, the police officer could be present for the time needed at CJC and could be back on the streets to continue regular police duties.
“The child victims also had to be transported in a police car to Provo for triage,” said Peters. “We will now have triage at the center for 10 hours a week.”
The triage tag, a minimal document that can be attached to each victim, might be the only practical method of communicating findings, interventions, and needed services.
Young said that those who suspect child abuse should report those suspicions to the local agency for the Utah DCFS (Division of Child and Family Services) who will conduct an assessment.
The agency’s mission is to protect children from abuse and neglect, as well as provide domestic violence services.
Police will then become involved as will Peters’ office and the CJC.
Peters said that there may be an on-site volunteer needed at the center for interview times. There will be a police officer, Young and DCFS already at the site while an interview is conducted. Sometimes a parent is also a victim and needs to meet with the interviewers.
“It is a traumatic experience for any child,” he said. “The volunteer would stay with the child.”
They could play a game or let them color or play with toys, he said.
The Friends of the Juab County CJC could be of service.
Young said that the center would have a new website.
Seth Atkinson, city administrator, said that the city was going to have a volunteer button on the city website.
“We could put a link back to CJC on that page,” he said.
Kent Jones, council member, said that CJC was a needed service and that they may see an increase in those needing the help of CJC as the city continued to grow.
Nathan Memmott, council member, said that the CJC had his support.