FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2020
CONTACT: Melissa Green | [email protected] | 202.494.9554
Washington, D.C. (January 14, 2020) – Today, Zero Abuse Project and the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) announced that they have been awarded $2.4 million by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to create the Trauma Informed Prosecutor Project (TIPP). TIPP will work to improve the effectiveness of the investigation and prosecution of child abuse by delivering training and providing technical assistance to prosecutors and other child abuse multidisciplinary team (MDT) members from nearly every state in the nation.
“In recent years, the massive scope of child abuse in our nation has come into focus, and the need for criminal justice intervention cannot be overstated,” said Jeff Dion, CEO of Zero Abuse Project. “Yet, prosecutors face significant systemic barriers to effectively prosecuting child abuse cases at a level commensurate with scale of the problem. This includes large, often overwhelming caseloads, formidable burdens of proof, and a lack of critical training and resources.”
David Corwin, the President of APSAC, noted, “there is an explosion of research that can inform the field of criminal justice in developing a trauma-informed approach to crimes against children. APSAC looks forward to partnering with Zero Abuse Project in bringing this research into daily work of prosecutors. We are confident TIPP will have a profound impact on the lives of thousands of children.”
TIPP will provide education to prosecutors and other MDT members through child abuse prosecutor tracks at national conferences, state and local trainings, and webinars. TIPP will place a special emphasis on reaching rural prosecutors who have fewer opportunities to access training. This will include a course on responding to technology facilitated crimes against children. In addition, Zero Abuse Project will conduct trial advocacy, crime scene investigation, and other experiential courses for small groups. These courses will be taught at university based experiential training facilities across the country. To maximize access to the courses, Zero Abuse Project will develop a train-the-trainer program to assist states in teaching the courses.
Forensic interview training will also play an important role in TIPP. Zero Abuse Project and APSAC have two of the most widely accessed and highly regarded forensic interview training programs in the country. The Zero Abuse Project’s forensic interview training program, ChildFirst, has been replicated in 20 states. APSAC has promulgated forensic interviewing guidelines that are adhered to by forensic interviewers throughout the United States. As part of TIPP, Zero Abuse Project and APSAC will expand their forensic interview training to include several advanced workshops for prosecutors and other MDT members.
In addition to forensic interview training, Zero Abuse Project and APSAC will collaborate in providing technical assistance to child abuse prosecutors and other MDT members. Zero Abuse Project and APSAC will also publish a bi-monthly newsletter to keep the field abreast of important developments impacting the field of criminal justice and will produce a trial manual for child abuse prosecutors to aid them in addressing all forms of maltreatment.
Overseeing the TIPP project is Victor Vieth, a former child abuse prosecutor who went on to direct the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse. Vieth, now Director of Education and Research at Zero Abuse Project, is an internationally recognized expert who has provided training to thousands of child abuse prosecutors and other MDTs members from all 50 states. Rita Farrell, Director of ChildFirst at Zero Abuse Project who has conducted over 2,500 forensic interviews, will oversee the expansion of forensic interview training initiatives. Stacie Leblanc, the incoming president of APSAC, is a former child abuse prosecutor who will take a leadership role in developing additional trial advocacy training.
Zero Abuse Project is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating a world where every child is free from abuse. They work to protect children from abuse and sexual assault, by engaging people and resources through a trauma-informed approach of education, research, advocacy, and advanced technology. Zero Abuse Project trains approximately 30,000 professionals each year, has implemented undergraduate and graduate child abuse courses in 79 universities, and oversees ChildFirst – a forensic interview training program that is replicated in 20 states.
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children is a nonprofit, national organization focused on meeting the needs of professionals engaged in all aspects of services for maltreated children and their families. Especially important to APSAC is the dissemination of state-of-the-art practice in all professional disciplines related to child abuse and neglect.