Leslie Slingsby, L.S.W., is the Executive Director of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center. Leslie has a Masters of Social Work with a concentration in non-profit management and social policy from the University of Michigan. Previously, she was the first Continuous Quality Improvement Manager for Bucks County Children and Youth Social Services Agency. Prior to her experience in public child welfare, she was the founding Director of the Bucks County Children’s Advocacy Center. In addition, Leslie has over a decade of experience in victim services overseeing mental health services, legal and medical advocacy, hotline and cyber services. She has been responsible for implementing and monitoring several state and federal grant projects and assisted with the coordination of several local program initiatives involving partnership including Child Death Review Team, Sexual Assault Response Team, the Crimes against Older Adults Task Force and the Domestic Abuse Fatality Review Team.
Letter from the Executive Director
National statistics reflect that between 10-20% of all children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. The prevalence of child physical and sexual abuse and neglect are staggering, and Montgomery County is not an exception. All forms of child abuse: sexual, physical and neglect occur in every part of Montgomery County, in every socio-economic, racial and ethnic group.
When a child is abused and tells someone about that abuse in communities without access to a Child Advocacy Center, interviews with the child are often conducted on multiple occasions and in different locations by police, social workers, district attorneys, medical specialists and mental health care providers. These multiple interviews require children to repeatedly relive the horrors of their abuse. This process has caused unnecessary trauma to children over the years, making it impossible for many to find the strength to testify in court so their abusers could be brought to justice. Child abusers go free when their victims cannot testify.
There are steps we can take to prevent child abuse and to heal the children who have suffered. Nationally, Child Advocacy Centers have been created to reduce the trauma to child abuse victims often caused by the investigation process and to more effectively prosecute those who abuse children. A Child Advocacy Center is a child-focused program where representatives from many disciplines meet to discuss and make decisions about the investigation, prosecution, intervention and treatment of child abuse cases. They also work together to prevent further victimization of children. Approximately one third of the counties in Pennsylvania are served by a Child Advocacy Center, and there are only about 800 such centers throughout the entire country. Mission Kids is proud to serve Montgomery County as a Fully Accredited Member of the National Children’s Alliance, the accrediting organization for Child Advocacy Centers across the country.
Mission Kids brings together professionals who respond to allegations of child abuse in Montgomery County as a team to interview alleged child victims and to develop investigation and intervention strategies. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, every police district in Montgomery County and the Montgomery County Office of Children and Youth have all pledged to coordinate interviewing, investigation and prosecution of alleged child abuse cases at Mission Kids. Since the prevention and treatment of child abuse is most effectively accomplished as a team, Mission Kids has also joined forces with Montgomery County Victim’s Services, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Children’s Crisis Treatment Center and Creative Health Service to help the victims of child abuse in Montgomery County begin to heal. Mission Kids currently serves over 500 children and their families every year.
For the ease of all families in Montgomery County, Mission Kids is centrally located. A specially trained forensic interviewer, who specializes in knowing how to ask neutral, age appropriate, non-leading questions to lessen the stress of the interview process, conducts the interview of the child victim. Our Family Advocates provide appropriate referrals to medical, therapeutic and social services for abused children and their families. If necessary, the Family Advocates follow the families and children through the criminal justice process, including providing court accompaniment, for continuity of services to continue to lessen any additional trauma.
Please join our team to help the abused children in Montgomery County begin to heal and to wipe out child abuse in our communities. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of abused children.
Leslie Slingsby, L.S.W.