In its quest for an efficient and fair criminal justice system, with an emphasis on protecting the rights of all parties involved, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) offers a wide array of services to the public and our county law enforcement. Throughout each and every day the men and woman of the CCPO take many steps in order to ensure that all matters that come to the office’s attention are reviewed and every conceivable option available is used to provide services in the best manner possible.
In addition to the above, the CCPO investigates and prosecutes thousands of criminal cases each and every year. While all of these cases are given the office’s full attention, there are some that require special consideration and review; especially when there are allegations of child abuse. Among the many steps the CCPO takes to address child abuse allegations, one in particular step takes the review of these cases to another level.
Meet the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, Multi-Disciplinary Team (aka: MDT).
The CCPO Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) is facilitated by MDT Coordinator Sarah Freites, who also serves as a full time victim advocate with the CCPO Office of Victim Witness Advocacy. Sarah coordinates a team of skill centered specialists that include social services representatives from the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), CARES Institute medical professionals, victim advocates, assistant prosecutors, therapists from The Center for Family Services (SERV) and our Sexual Assault Forensic Nurse, Christina Swain.
The MDT meets monthly where its members take a comprehensive, integrated approach, focusing on the needs of the child victim where allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse and endangering the welfare of a child allegedly have been perpetrated by a parent/guardian or caretaker. The effectiveness of the MDT comes from the cooperative approach that relies on the sharing of information by the members. Their goal is to evaluate each matter and, when appropriate, make referrals for counseling, medical treatments or school intercession for the child victim and their family, including the non-offending parent/guardian or caretaker while the matter is pending its disposition.
Since the inception of the MDT, there have been many successes to speak of where the efforts of the team have made an impact on not only the victim, but the entire family who have been affected by these types of abuses. Coordinator Freites states: “When it comes to the abuse of a child, collaborations like the MDT are vital for the sake of everyone involved with these very serious matters.” She added: “If we can provide services that change the life of just one child or family, then the MDT is working. We have done just that and I am proud of my team for all they do when handling these very difficult cases.”
For more information about the MDT or any of the many services offered by the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, please contact us at: 856-453-0486. Of course, you can continue to “Get to Know the CCPO” by visiting www.njccpo.org.