The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape will present its 2015 Vision of Hope Award to Joan Mills of A Child’s Place at Mercy in Pittsburgh, PA, March 28 at the Vision of Hope Gala & Auction at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey.
The Vision of Hope Award is presented annually to recognize those who show a commitment to protecting children through violence prevention and intervention and ensures the safety of children through increasing awareness, strengthening policies or creating campaigns that promote healthy families and communities.
“Joan’s heart and soul is dedicated to improving the lives of children who have been impacted by child sexual abuse” PCAR CEO Delilah Rumburg said. “She’s gracefully led A Child’s Place at Mercy where thousands of children have received help, worked to change state laws and established community partnerships to help prevent sexual abuse.”
For nearly three decades Ms. Mills has worked to establish child-centered and trauma-informed interventions and treatment services at A Child’s Place at Mercy while promoting collaboration between organizations such as children advocacy centers and rape crisis centers.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this award, especially after seeing all the past recipients,” Ms. Mills said. “The Vision of Hope Award to me represents recognition of the thousands of victims’ cases I have been involved with over the past several decades; I see their eyes still. I accept this award for them—all of them. Being part of the systemic changes in the response to evaluating and investigating child abuse cases that have taken place in our Commonwealth over 27 years has been quite dramatic and awe inspiring.”
One example is the use of filmed forensic interviews of child victims. Mills argued that this would reduce the trauma for a child during trial while providing evidence to the jury in the child’s own words. While this doesn’t preclude the child from testifying during the trial, the child’s exposure to trauma and court room tactics may be limited by the opportunity to rely on a high quality forensic interview.
In a child sexual abuse case last July in Westmoreland County assistant district attorney cited the use of the forensic interview as the difference in the jury returning a guilty verdict.