ROGERS, Minn. (KMSP) - For the first time in its nearly 30-year history, CornerHouse is expanding.
The non-profit developed the protocol for interviewing victims of child abuse and conducts interviews across Hennepin County and throughout the state. The new center, which is attached to the Rogers Police Department, will be opening next week.
In the space, children as young as two years and eight months old will share whatever details they can of their physical or sexual abuse. At the same time, the site will record the interview, which will be monitored by the county prosecutor, officer and child protection official working together on the case.
“It can be a real challenge for law enforcement, child protection, to travel into the Cities,” said CornerHouse Executive Director Patricia Harmon. “It takes a long time.”
Across Hennepin County last year, there were 20,000 reports of child abuse. As many interviews as possible were performed in a similar way at the Minneapolis location.
“In Minneapolis we are booked all day, every day with four to five interviews, so there was really not a capacity to serve the more than 500 children we are already serving each year,” said Harmon.
“Without any cost to tax payers other than a bucket of paint, we really economically provided them a space that’s going to be long-term,” said Rogers Police Chief Jeff Beahen.
Chief Beahen has seen first-hand the challenges families in the northwest part of Hennepin County face when dealing with an alleged abuse situation. He says weather, traffic and going to the metro can add to the stress. He often shares the story of a three-year-old whose abuse never had the chance to be heard or prosecuted.
“Not every child is raised the same and at same mental and physical level, and they were concerned this would be too much stimuli for this young child and in fact they canceled the interview,” said Beahen.
By opening up a second location, starting with interviews just one day a week, CornerHouse hopes to help 100 more children in the northwestern part of the county and more rural areas through referrals.
“In the end, who are we trying to protect here? It’s the kids,” said Beahen.
Rogers Police Chief points out having this close location will save time and money for his and other police departments as well. Currently, when an officer is assigned to attend an interview for CornerHouse in Minneapolis, it can take that officer off the streets or away from other cases for an entire day.