To confront rising numbers of abuse and neglect reports, Hennepin County’s leading child abuse protection advocacy agency is opening a satellite office in Rogers.
The announcement came as the county’s top officials gathered Monday to kick off National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The agency, CornerHouse, helped law enforcement and social workers by conducting more than 500 forensic interviews with abused children last year.
The new office in Rogers, which is the first satellite office for the 27-year-old agency, should be able to take in about 100 new cases, said Patricia Harmon, CornerHouse executive director. Most of the funding for the new office came from private donations.
“Child abuse thrives in the shadow of secrecy,” she said a news conference Monday. “And abuse knows no boundaries.”
There were more than 20,000 reports of child maltreatment in Hennepin County last year. This is a 30 percent increase since 2016 and more than 85 percent increase since 2009.
To promote child abuse awareness and raise money for CornerHouse, “Blue Kids” yard signs can be purchased for $25 throughout April. CornerHouse and its programs were praised at the news conference by County Commissioner Marion Greene, County Attorney Mike Freeman, Sheriff Rich Stanek and Rogers Police Chief Jeffrey Beahen.
Stanek, who is a board member at CornerHouse, said his office used the agency for more than two dozen interviews of abused children last year. One case involved an interview of a girl who was abused by her mom’s fiancé. During the interview, police discovered two of her siblings had been abused. This led to several charges against the fiancé, Stanek said.
Besides forensic interviewing, CornerHouse offers counseling for children and parents and referral services. Freeman, also a board member, said the agency is a safe and calm environment for the families, and he knows interviewers always do a thoughtful and professional job.
“CornerHouse is a great model of progressive crime fighting against abusers,” he said.