As May ended, so did the tenure of Anne Pfeiffer as Executive Director of Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center in Charlotte. Anne is moving home to Ohio, but she is leaving our community better than she found it when she arrived. As a result of her work, Pat’s Place will continue to help children and their families overcome the trauma of abuse.
Named after longtime children’s advocate Pat Wolfe who passed away unexpectedly in 2000, the idea for Pat’s Place was incubated at the Council to address an acute problem faced by too many of the children we served: Adding repeated interviews and examinations in police stations and medical facilities to the trauma of sexual abuse. As Program Director at the Council, Anne led the creation of Pat’s Place as a program of the Council, replicating the national “child advocacy center” model and building toward the day when the program would move out on its own as an independent agency.
The Council and Anne achieved that goal in 2004, and Pat’s Place served its first child in 2005. As with Anne’s departure from Charlotte now, her departure from the Council then to serve as the founding Executive Director of Pat’s Place produced mixed emotions: Sorrow that she would no longer be a part of our daily lives, pride in her accomplishments, support for her new service, and hope for the children we knew she would help.
We wish Anne well, and we know that she will do great work for the children of her new community. In the meantime, the Council has renewed our commitment to identifying gaps in the systems serving the children of our community, like the compounded trauma that was eased by the creation of Pat’s Place.
Pat’s Place illustrates the Council’s unique history and role in our community. Our social workers and lawyers represent and advocate for individual children, and through that work we find service gaps and help organize solutions with our community partners, even when the solution is not really consistent with our core work.
For example, the Council helped convene a group initially called “Families First” to bring the Nurse Family Partnership program to Charlotte, and that program is now part of Care Ring, one of our partner agencies in the Children and Family Services Center. More recently, we have served as a temporary home for the study and organization of out of school time standards, professional development programming, and an online locator. The interim funding for our work on OST ends in June 2015, and we are striving to find a new home and sustainable funding for the continuation of work the community has recognized as vital to preserving the value of investments in school readiness initiatives like Nurse Family Partnership and Bright Beginnings. Finally, with the support of The Junior League of Charlotte, we have helped Reid Park Academy, the community served by the school, and five community partner agencies to build a successful community school model, for which we are planning a transition to a permanent and sustainable home in this last year of the initial funding.
We expect to continue not only to stand up for children who have fallen into peril through gaps in our systems but also to go upstream with our community partners to close those gaps, including creating and incubating programs like Pat’s Place.
Bob Simmons is the Executive Director of the Council for Children’s Rights.