Charlevoix County agencies coordinate response to child abuse and neglect

CHX MDT signing Sept 2023 CROPPED 500px

Charlevoix County agencies and organizations recently drafted and signed a protocol for responding to child abuse and neglect. Pictured are (front from left) WRCNM Forensic Coordinator Sarah Holzschu, WRCNM Advocacy and Outreach Director Suzann Barger, Charlevoix County Sheriff Chuck Vondra, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Charlevoix County Maureen Clore, Charlevoix County Friend of the Court Director Nancy Parshall, (back from left) Charlevoix Chief of Police Jill McDonnell, Charlevoix Deputy Chief of Police Robert Scholey, Gaylord Michigan State Police Post Commander F.Lt. Carl Rothenberger, Charlevoix County Undersheriff Todd Reeves, Boyne City Police Chief Kevin Spate, Char-Em ISD Superintendent Scott Koziol, and Charlevoix County Prosecutor Kit Tholen.

Charlevoix County agencies and organizations recently drafted and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that creates a common framework for responding to child abuse and neglect. The signing signifies an agreement to coordinate efforts through a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach of the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, children’s protective services, schools, advocacy/support services, and other area professionals.

The primary purpose of an MDT is to coordinate procedures and practices of the various entities in the detection, investigation, and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases. MDT members meet regularly and are actively involved in case reviews and decision-making. Additionally, team members are specially trained to handle cases of child abuse and neglect in their locale and area of expertise.

MDT member Sarah Holzschu is the Forensic Coordinator and Interviewer with the Children’s Advocacy Center, a program of Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan. Holzschu, who has worked in law enforcement and schools, understands the importance of various disciplines working together.

“By working together, we can better support, advocate, and seek justice and healing for children and teens who have been abused. An improved coordination between disciplines reduces trauma and provides protection and continued support for child survivors and their families,” Holzschu said.

WRCNM’s Children’s Advocacy Center provides a child-friendly and trauma-informed space for children and their families to share their experiences. The center provides forensic interviews, support, advocacy, and counseling with specially trained and experienced therapists. The Children’s Advocacy Center is a member of multidisciplinary teams in Charlevoix, Cheboygan, and Emmet counties.

To learn more about Children’s Advocacy Center, call WRCNM at (231) 347-0067.

To contact Charlevoix City Police or the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s office, call 9-1-1.