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Jefferson County child advocacy center achieves national recognition

BROOKVILLE - Western PA CARES for Kids (CARES) was recognized by the National Children's Alliance (NCA) for its delivery of high quality and effective services to child abuse victims through accreditation Tuesday.

CARES is a child advocacy center on Route 322 near Brookville that serves Jefferson, Clarion and Forest counties.

The center was awarded accreditation after an extensive application and site review process.

Accreditation is the highest level of membership with NCA and denotes excellence in service provision.

The President of the Board of Directors of Western PA CARES for Kids and Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett said CARES began in 2008 in a donated space and moved to its current location in 2011.

"Every time I walk through the doors of this place, I almost have to pinch myself to be sure that I'm not dreaming," Burkett said. "What began as merely a dream in my heart that one day that we, in the criminal justice system, would be able to treat abused children with the love and compassion that they so dearly need and lessen the trauma of their investigations, has now become an wonderful reality."

The center has seen over 760 children for allegations of abuse since its beginning in May 2008.

"What this means the kids is that they aren't traumatized by having to tell what happened to them over and over and over again like they had to do before our child advocacy center was here," said Pat Berger, CARES executive director and forensic interviewer.

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