A safe place for kids. Professionals who specialize in child abuse. A community collaboration.
Healthier kids. Stronger families. More abusers behind bars. Money saved. Bivona works.
Our partners and a team approach make it possible
This progressive approach partners child protective services social workers, law enforcement, prosecutors, medical professionals, therapists, advocates, and volunteers. Whenever possible, children participate in only one forensic interview, and one medical exam—a streamlined process which reduces the chances that the children are re-traumatized and preserves the best evidence for investigators.
Team members work together to provide the child and family the support services they need—all the way through trial and beyond—so that a process of trust and healing can begin.
We formally partner with these agencies to provide services to children:
- Monroe County Child Protective Services
- Law enforcement, including:
- Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
- REACH Program of Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester
- Rape Crisis Service
- Linden Oaks Sexual Abuse Treatment Services
- Catholic Family Center
A community service that happens only at Bivona
Bivona Child Advocacy Center is the only agency in the Greater Rochester community to provide these services. More than 1,000 children are helped at Bivona each year.
Although Bivona receives some government funding, much of our support comes from people within the community. We are a 501(c)(3) public charity, recognized by the State of New York as a non-profit organization. Our Board of Directors is a group of dedicated community members. Our staff is small but experienced and effective.
The Child Advocacy Center model was created in 1985. Since then, there have been more than 700 such centers established across the country. Bivona is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance. Accreditation assures our partners and the community that we are meeting national standards for delivery of care and services.
Our mission is fulfilled through greater public awareness and support. We are happy to speak to your school, organization or business. Contact us to request a presentation.
And we welcome your gift of time or money. Learn more about ways to help.
Before Bivona: the child and family navigate the maze of agencies on their own
Before Bivona, a child who suffered abuse was generally interviewed first by someone with little or no experience in child abuse— maybe a school principal, maybe a police officer. Then he was taken to a police department, where he told his story again. The atmosphere was often chaotic, with accused criminals being brought in and out, phones ringing, police responding to one crisis after another.
Then it was on to the emergency room where the child had a medical exam and told the story again to a nurse, doctor, social worker…and then to a child protective services worker, and possibly a lawyer from the DAs office. And he told the story again. Finally, maybe there was a counselor and he’s asked to tell the story once again.
He was traumatized to begin with. At the end of this process, he’s exhausted and confused and even re-traumatized from the multiple times he had to re-tell his story. The details got fuzzy and the crime became harder to investigate and prosecute. And it took days or even weeks, because there were multiple bureaucracies and schedules involved and no one was coordinating the entire effort. And it was expensive.
With Bivona: streamlined, compassionate, coordinated, effective—a path to healing
With Bivona, care for the child and family is coordinated at one place—our safe, welcoming, child-friendly center. All of the professionals who are involved in abuse system come to the child, not the other way around. They’re specialists in what they do, and they work together as a team, coordinated by Bivona staff, to keep the process simple and effective.
The child tells her story during a forensic interview, usually to just one person, while multiple members of the team—Child Protective Services, police, the district attorney—watch from behind a one-way mirror. She can see a doctor specially trained in child abuse for a medical exam, and then she can talk to a counselor who helps her begin the healing process.
Even given the terrible abuse they’ve suffered, kids sometimes say, “I like this place. Can I come back?”
Meanwhile, Child Protective Services is working to be sure that other children in the family are safe, and coordinating support services. Her brothers and sisters get to hang out in our play area with a friendly volunteer. And an advocate is sitting with her mother to help her understand and navigate the next steps and the court system. All of this can happen in the span of a few hours.
Outcomes: judge us by our results
“There’s a pretty clear difference between the cases that are handled through Bivona and those that are not. Based on my experience, when a child is interviewed at Bivona, the child feels comfortable and gives a better disclosure —which makes it easier to prosecute. And the children are always treated with respect, which is a huge factor in how well they’re able to recover.”
– Kristina Karle, Chief of Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Bureau,
Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
National studies indicate that the cost of providing children with coordinated care through a Child Advocacy Center saves about one-third of the cost of accessing the social and legal agencies individually. The savings represent $1,000 per child.* At Bivona we save the community about $1 million each year. And we mend some broken hearts, too.
* Source: Executive Summary, Findings from the National Child Advocacy Center Cost-Benefit Analysis of Community Responses to Child Maltreatment, 2005. Download the PDF.