ELKHART — Children who have been physically or sexually abused or who witnessed a violent crime now have a private, quiet and secure place to share their stories.
Inside a newly constructed wing at the Joy Rose Center in Elkhart, several small rooms with muted color furniture and fish aquariums provide a comforting atmosphere for youth during their fact-finding interviews with Child and Parent Services officials.
Staff moved into the 27,000-square-foot, two-story building in August. The space is adjacent to the old CAPS Joy Rose Center at 1000 W. Hively Avenue, Elkhart. The building cost $4 million to construct, and an additional $1.5 million was spent to demolish the old building and create a new parking lot, said CAPS President and CEO Candy Yoder.
A side entrance gives children and their parents the ability to enter Child and Family Advocacy Center privately, Yoder added.
“We were excited to move into a building with bright open spaces that wasn’t old and worn out,” Yoder said.
“We made the (former) building work by fitting things in where we needed to, but this building is built specifically for our purposes. It’s created a different feeling for the staff and for the families that we serve in our programs.”
Each program can be identified by a different design and color scheme on the main floor. Offices and meeting spaces are available on both floors.
Bright orange highlights the area for the preschool program. The space is also used for childcare when parenting education classes are being held. A playground for preschoolers will be set up soon, Yoder added.
The blue section, designated for toddlers and infants, includes an outdoor playground and private nursing space.
Beyond the waiting room near the main entrance, a second waiting room with a separate exit was created for families who need a space for supervised visitations with birth parents or non-custodial parents.
“We have about 50 families who come here each month and it can be stressful for a child when parents don’t want to encounter each other for whatever reasons,” Yoder said. “With the second waiting room, a parent can come and go and not be seen by the other parent.”
CAPS staff members currently serve approximately 3,500 people in Elkhart, 1,500 in Goshen, 200 in Wakarusa and Nappanee, 150 in Middlebury and 60 in Millersburg and New Paris. The new facility will allow staff to increase services and reach an estimated 800 additional families in Elkhart County, Yoder explained.
“We look forward to continue our mission of ensuring that every child lives a life free from abuse and neglect,” Yoder said.