More than $135,000 was raised last year to help cover a deficit in the operating budgets of the Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Response Team, which combined provide services to up to 550 child, adolescent and adult victims in north county each year, Palomar Health officials announced Friday.
Both programs operate under the Forensic Health Department at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, and a second Sexual Assault Response Team is based at Pomorado Hospital in Poway, according to Palomar Health.
"Our North County center plays an integral part in the legal system," Forensic Health Services Child Abuse Department Supervisor Cathy McLennan said. "At the request of law enforcement agencies, we conduct timely forensic interviews and gather forensic evidence, as we provide immediate and compassionate care for our victims."
McLennan said findings allow deputies to make arrests, and enable the county District Attorney's Office to effectively prosecute perpetrators. Without the Child Abuse Prevention department, victims would have to travel several miles for help.
"The CAP program at Palomar Health is directly related to our ability to convict child molesters and rapists," District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said. "We need the forensic interviewers, the medical doctors and the sexual assault nurses as witnesses to effectively prosecute all of our rape and child molestation cases. Without CAP, San Diego's most serious criminals may not be effectively held accountable."
The funds from North County residents, family foundations, community groups and businesses were received after the Palomar Health Foundation, which has helped fund the programs for three decades, issued a plea for help in covering the amount of the deficit, which was not disclosed. However, the amount raised fell short of the organization's $200,000 goal.
Palomar Health officials said long-term funding solutions were being sought.
The Office of Forensic Sciences held an open house Tuesday to thank those that helped sustain the programs.
-City News Service