Agreement Provides Critical Partnership for Families on Martha’s Vineyard
June 27, 2023
For over 25 years, Children’s Cove has provided hope and healing for children across Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha’s Vineyard. We have worked hard to establish a child-friendly, confidential, and safe facility where children who were victims of crime and abuse receive a streamlined, comprehensive, and supportive approach to the investigation of their case. We have accomplished this through a collaborative partnership with local law enforcement, the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, the Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Our partnerships allow for not only a coordinated multidisciplinary response to cases involving child sexual abuse and severe physical abuse, but also help those who witness domestic violence, or those traumatized by commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children. Our collective efforts allow Children’s Cove to partner with confidential supportive services across our communities to help survivors and their non-offending families in their recovery. And Children’s Cove strives to provide assistance to all families on the Cape and Islands.
However, even with all this effort, we have found logistical and geographical challenges remain in our effort to serve all families who need help. For some families on Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket who are experiencing some of the most difficult circumstances of their lives, it can be difficult to travel by plane or ferry across Nantucket Sound and then drive to Children’s Cove. We knew that we needed to find a way to remove the barriers that exist. So, for the last several years we have engaged in quiet conversations with our dedicated community partners on Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard to find some solutions.
On June 7th, 2023, the Barnstable County Commissioners executed an Interagency Agreement between Children’s Cove: The Cape and Islands Child Advocacy Center, and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services CONNECT to End Violence Program (CONNECT), to help child victims of crime on Martha’s Vineyard. The Board also renewed an Intergovernmental Agreement with Dukes County to provide these services on Martha Vineyard. This partnership will allow us to bring our child-friendly, trauma informed forensic interview services and coordination of care directly to the Island of Martha’s Vineyard.
Utilizing the comfortable and confidential space of CONNECT’S office, our teams worked together to develop a forensic interview room, an observation area for a multidisciplinary team, and family waiting room, which will allow families access to our services on island. While there may be instances where a family may still need to come directly to Children’s Cove in Barnstable, the vast majority of cases will be managed locally.
“Children’s Cove does tremndous work, and we are very excited to support this new partnership between Barnstable County, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office,” – Barnstable County Commissioner Chairman Mark Forest.
Our new partnership brings numerous benefits to serve our regional community. First and foremost, as a child-first organization, the burden of lengthy travel on children and their families will be eliminated. This partnership will reduce additional economic, social, professional, and emotional burdens to families in the midst of trauma. Removing these burdens will allow greater opportunity for families to receive support. Second, it allows an immediate connection to help for the child and family. With our Family Services Coordinator working directly with CONNECT staff to support the family, access to supportive services through the greater MVCS program will be connected immediately rather than after the fact. Third, the Child Advocacy Center (CAC) approach already reduces costs for investigative agencies through its collaborative model, however, for each case referred from Martha’s Vineyard, the investigative law enforcement agency needs to send a detective to Children’s Cove in Barnstable. With the multidisciplinary team meeting on-island, it minimizes the number of individuals who need to travel decreasing cost and increasing productivity. Through grant funding, this agreement has allowed eliminated any cost to Barnstable County as well.
This partnership was established by a process like the one that created Children’s Cove – a small group of community leaders sat down and discussed the future of their children, and what the community needed to do to help children who are victims of sexual abuse and violence. Through foresight, commitment, compassion, and ingenuity we found a way to continue working together and expanding partnerships to help children. We would like to thank those we worked with on this collaboration through their encouragement, direct support, funding, vision, and dedication to children on Martha’s Vineyard:
- Beth Folcarelli, CEO, MVCS
- Jennifer Neary, Director, CONNECT to End Violence, MVCS
- Chief McNamee, Edgartown Police Department
- Chief Belain, Aquinnah Police Department
- Chief Slavin, Chilmark Police Department
- Chief Searle, Oak Bluffs Police Department
- Chief Habekost, Tisbury Police Department
- Chief Mincone, West Tisbury Police Department
- Sherriff Robert Ogden, Dukes County Sheriff’s Office
- District Attorney Galibois, Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office
- Second Assistant Russ Eonas, Cape & Islands District Attorney’s Office
- Beth Albert, County Administrator, Barnstable County Regional Government
- Mark Forest, Barnstable County Commissioner
- Sheila Lyons, Barnstable County Commissioner
- Ron Bergstrom, Barnstable County Commissioner
As we begin this collaboration and partnership, we will work to increase our awareness of services to expand access to families on the Vineyard. We believe that with partnership like our new one with MVCS, we are on the path to create communities where children are free of abuse, have a voice that is heard, and where they enjoy healthy, safe, and empowered lives.
To learn more about this partnership please reach out to our Community Engagement and Education Program Manager Jacob Stapledon.