WINONA, Minn. — Champions for abused children just got a powerful new ally.
The National Child Protection Training Center has signed a letter of intent to become part of Gundersen Lutheran Health System, the organizations announced Wednesday.
“As long as there is a need, the National Child Protection Training Center will stand with those who stand with children,” center executive director Victor Vieth said. “But from this day forward, we will do so as part of the family of the Gundersen health system.”
Vieth and Gundersen Lutheran CEO Jeff Thompson announced the affiliation Wednesday morning at the center’s headquarters on the Winona State University campus.
Thompson said that affiliating with the center fits well with Gundersen’s greater mission.
“Health care is no longer just a doctor talking to a patient,” he said.
Studies have demonstrated strong correlations between abuse and maltreatment in childhood and persistent and severe health problems later in life, he said, and with an estimated million children or more suffering abuse in the U.S. alone, child abuse is a significant health care issue.
Thompson said in the new relationship, the center will be an independent partner, setting its own goals and strategic plan with its own guiding board. Gundersen will provide fiscal, administrative and professional support.
Vieth said the relationship will provide a degree of financial and organizational stability to the center it has not previously enjoyed.
“This assures that the center will be here as long as there are children in need,” he said.
The affiliation with a major health care organization offers opportunities to extend the center’s training to health care professionals, Vieth said.
Winona State University President Scott Olson said the relationship between the center and Winona State will remain unchanged. The center will continue to be headquartered on the WSU campus, and WSU will
See Child, C2
continue offering support.
The National Child Protection Training Center opened on the WSU campus in 2003 with the mission of teaching child-care providers, teachers, social workers, police officers and others how to identify signs of child abuse, effectively report and investigate suspected abuse, and interview suspected victims.
The center has trained more than 70,000 child protection professionals, Vieth said. The center facility includes mock courtrooms, interview rooms and a mock home for conducting simulated crime scene investigations.
WSU developed a minor in child advocacy studies in cooperation with the center. It was the first of its kind and has so far been replicated at 29 schools in 15 states.
The first of three planned regional training centers, which will replicate and extend the work being done in Winona, will open soon at Northwest Arkansas Community College to serve 15 states in the south, Vieth said.