April 27, 2023
The Utah Attorney General’s Office celebrates this week’s groundbreaking for the Washington County Criminal Justice Center expansion. Our office works closely with a team of dedicated professionals who handle crucial counseling, investigation, and prosecution of child sexual assault cases in Washington County. Due to the area’s growth, it now requires more capacity in order to handle the increased caseload.
The Washington County CJC shared the following Press Release:
Washington County Children’s Justice Center Breaks Ground on Expansion Project
April 25, 2023
St. George—The Washington County Children’s Justice Center is pleased to announce the groundbreaking for an expansion project to strengthen access to trauma-informed services for children who have been victims of abuse and other crimes.
This new building will house the Children’s Justice Center’s growing medical and mental health programs adjacent to the current center at 463 East 500 South. Additionally, it will provide training space for the Center’s multidisciplinary team that investigates and prosecutes child abuse cases. The current Children’s Justice Center building will continue to provide forensic interviewing and victim advocacy services.
The groundbreaking event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 26, at 10 am.
“We are honored to hold the stories of children who have been victims of abuse and to help them on their journey to becoming healthy, thriving survivors,” says Kristy Pike, director of the Washington County Children’s Justice Center. “While it is true that Washington County has been growing, this additional building is more about our expanded services. When the current space was completed 15 years ago, no one was thinking we would be offering medical and mental health services on-site, but today we do. Now there will be space designed specifically for those services.”
As with all services offered by the Children’s Justice Center, the upcoming building will be a public-private partnership. Intermountain Health has provided a charitable land lease on the 1.22-acre parcel where it will construct the expansion. The Washington County American Rescue Plan Act has pledged $2 million for construction funding. The community will raise the final $500 thousand to complete the construction project through grants and donations (https://cjcwc.com/capital-campaign/).
“We are constantly in awe of the generosity of our community as the Center works to fulfill its mission of collaborating with multidisciplinary partners to protect each child, advance justice, promote healing, and educate our community,” says Joanie Ayers, acting chair of the Friends of the Washington County Children’s Justice Center. “Our community has always stepped up, and we believe they will do so again.”
“We are appreciative of the great collaboration between Intermountain, Washington County, the City of St. George, the state of Utah, Children’s Justice Center staff, and private partners to quietly care for the most vulnerable in our community – our children,” says Washington County Commissioner Gil Almquist.
“The Children’s Justice Center is crucial to our county’s response to crimes against children,” says Washington County Attorney Eric Clarke. “The collaboration that happens there between CJC staff, law enforcement, Child Protective Services, medical and mental health professionals, prosecutors, and others is key in helping us ensure a safe community.”
“Adverse childhood experiences like abuse have been shown to increase risk factors for nine of the ten of the leading causes of death in Utah, including things you would expect, like suicide, and things you may not expect, like cancer and Alzheimer’s,” says Pike. “The services provided by our Children’s Justice Center are designed to buffer those effects and help children grow into healthy adults.”
The Friends of Washington County Children’s Justice Center is a qualified 501(c)(3) that supports the center’s work. Forensic interviews, victim advocacy, and medical and mental health services are available to children who have been abused or witnessed crimes. As of 2022, the Center served 420 victims and their non-offending families. Children seen at the Center most commonly report child sexual abuse/assault.
The Washington County Children’s Justice Center is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. Public/private funding is partly provided by the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Washington County, the Utah Office for Victims of Crime Department of Justice, the Friends of Washington County Children’s Justice Center, and private donations.
Find more information at utahcjc.org.