Fifteen years ago, the Senator Wynona Lipman Child Advocacy Center (known as Wynona’s House) was founded in Newark, New Jersey as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping children who have been abused or neglected.
Wynona’s House revolutionized the process endured by children and families of Essex County coping with the aftermath of abuse and neglect. We are a collaboration of more than 70 multi-disciplinary advocates helping the children of Essex County who have been abused or neglected. Wynona’s House coordinates a cross-systems collaboration that leverages both public and private resources to improve outcomes addressing the problem of child abuse, neglect and maltreatment within the 22 municipalities of Essex County, including Bellville, Bloomfield, Caldwell, Cedar Grove, East Orange, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Irvington, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn (and Short Hills), Montclair (and Upper Montclair), Newark, North Caldwell, Nutley, Orange, Roseland, South Orange, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange). The multi-agency collaboration serves 789,565 county residents and provides direct services to more than 600 abused or neglected children each year.
Wynona’s House was inspired in part, by a mother’s frustration with the then-existing system for helping children and their families obtain justice and receive healing. The existing system was awkward, confusing, and hard for families to access and navigate. Lack of coordination put successful prosecution at risk and increased the potential for re-victimization as children had to disclose their abuse several times and in several locations.
We thought we could do better. A multi-disciplinary team was assembled to find a solution. The team researched best practices and traveled around the country to learn about the most effective methods of treating maltreatment. They adopted the innovative and successful Child Advocacy Center model. The team included private individuals and representatives of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and the New Jersey Legislature through the commitment of our namesake and champion, Senator Wynona Lipman.
Today, law enforcement, prosecutors, medical and mental health professionals, child protective services and a nonprofit administrator all work together in one, child-friendly facility. The result is the Senator Wynona Lipman House Child Advocacy Center, which now serves more than 600 children in a typical year.
Wynona’s House is the only fully co-located (one-stop for families) Child Advocacy Center in New Jersey. This best-practice model has improved outcomes for child victims of abuse and violence in Essex County. Children and their families receive better, more comprehensive and victim-focused care faster and more conveniently. Prosecutions are more successful, quicker and often result in longer sentences.
We look to the future and fulfilling our vision of safe communities for children through continuous improvement of services, improved prevention strategies, increased public awareness, and tireless advocacy for better legislative protection for the most vulnerable members of our society.