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Champions for Children Recognized

Three Livingston County women were honored for their work assisting and advocating for children who have been victims of abuse and neglect at the CAP (Child Abuse Prevention) Council’s Power of One Celebration May 18. CAP is a program of LACASA.

Pamela Maas, Circuit Court Supervising Attorney with the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office, Marilyn Bradford, Juvenile Court Supervising Attorney with the Prosecutor’s Office and Elizabeth Stahl, Program Director for LACASA, were all named 2012 Champions for Children.

“These three individuals are true superheroes when it comes to protecting and seeking justice for children in Livingston County,” said Deanna Norris, CAP Council Director, who co-presented the awards with Robin Schutz, Great Start Livingston Coordinator. “Together, they have a combined 50 years of experience advocating for children and children’s issues,” Norris said.

Pamela Maas was a driving force in the development of the CARE (Child Abuse Response Effort) Project in Livingston County, an interviewing process where child victims can tell their story to one person, one time, in a safe and private environment while all of the professionals who need to hear that story observe from an adjacent room. CARE interviews help to preserve the details of a child’s story and save the child from the added trauma of having to repeat his or her story multiple times.

Maas also was central in the development of the Court Dog Program in which trained dogs attend court with child witnesses to ease the anxiety associated with appearing in court. She helped develop the statewide protocol for the forensic interviewing of children and is recognized statewide as the “go to” expert in child sexual assault cases, frequently providing trainings on the topic for prosecutors around the state.

Marilyn Bradford heads up the division of the Prosecutor’s Office responsible for prosecuting cases involving the abuse and neglect of children in our community. She was instrumental in the development of the CARE Project and has taught many classes on the forensic interviewing of children for county law enforcement and human service agencies. Bradford has played an integral role in the development of the Juvenile Drug Court, the Family Treatment Court, the Model Dependency Court, and the Juvenile Justice Model Court for Livingston County. In addition, she is a frequent trainer on juvenile justice issues.

Elizabeth Stahl is the Program Director for LACASA, and is an expert in forensic interviewing and court testimony for children who have suffered sexual and severe physical abuse. Stahl provides a voice for the young and vulnerable members of the community, conducting CARE interviews and creating relationships with child victims that make them feel safe and secure in talking about the things that have happened to them. Stahl is a trusted resource for others in the community seeking to help children. A skilled and dedicated professional, she puts the welfare of children above all else and strives to ensure that situations of abuse are addressed quickly so the process of healing can begin.

Although the CAP Council and Great Start Livingston typically honor one individual each year with the Champion for Children Award, the decision to honor all three of these women was an easy one.

“The work of these three is often intertwined,” said Norris. “but each one of them is a champion in her own right.” Norris concluded by quoting one of the nomination letters stating that these champions are “respected by their peers, feared by perpetrators, and loved by the children for whom they have fought so tirelessly.”

Also recognized was Patricia Sue Cherry, owner and head primary teacher of Maple Tree Montessori Academy in Brighton. Cherry received the Power of One Award for her generous support of the CAP Council. Norris said Cherry and the Maple Tree school have donated more than $12,000 of tuition monies to fund the CAP Council’s child abuse prevention programs.

Steve Garagiola, local resident and WDIV-TV news anchor, served as the master of ceremonies for the event that attracted more than 130 supporters.

LACASA Staff Insight

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