Jennifer Schuman

Starting Feb. 4, Warren County will have access to the Children’s Advocacy Center designed to support children and young adults who come from abusive homes.

A new center is scheduled to open Feb. 4, hoping to tackle the mistreatment of minors in Warren County.

The Children’s Advocacy Center will focus on giving children and young adults mental treatment to assist them with the abuse they may have experienced, in addition to providing access to law enforcement officials to help with their cases.

In addition, the center-to be located on Campus Loop Road in Franklin, Ohio-is hoping to connect children with additional services, such as outpatient care through nearby hospitals, parent training and recreational therapy.

There will be an open house and ribbon cutting for the center from 1-3 p.m. Feb. 2, where the public is invited to tour and officially welcome the center to Warren County.

In April 2007, county officials signed an agreement to create the center due to the lack of such a facility in Warren County.

Michael Virelli, superintendent of mental retardation and developmental disabilities of Warren County; Ken Burns, the city of Lebanon’s chief of police; Rachel Hutzel, Warren County prosecutor; and Russ Dern of Warren County Mental Health Recovery Services are all partnering to open the center.

“The center is not an original idea,” Hutzel explained. “Child advocacy centers are becoming a national trend-but one is Warren is necessary.”

Virelli echoed Hutzel’s sentiments, explaining the center will give children the help they need.

“The center is going to be a great help and give protection to the children that are abused,” he said. “There is no question that we want to be a part of that.”

According to Hutzel, the center will be funded from a variety of contributors.

“The Child Advocacy Center is completely funded through the public and also many private grants,” Hutzel said.

The center received grants from the National Children’s Alliance, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Physicians’ Charitable Foundation, as well as members of the Warren County Foundation.

During the first year of the new center’s opening, the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton agreed to provide overhead costs. Pediatric specialists from Children’s Medical Center will also be providing service at the Advocacy Center starting Feb. 4.

Until the center opens in February, Warren citizens will have to continue to travel to neighboring locations, such as Hamilton or Montgomery counties, in order to receive help.

All different payments will be accepted at the center such as self-payment, Medicaid, Medicare, private health insurance and military insurance.