For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You highlights Jennifer Long, the executive director of the Children’s Protection Center.
Long has spent her entire life in community service, and as executive director of the Children’s Protection Center (CPC), she has become a passionate advocate for children at risk in Pulaski County.
The CPC follows a national model for children’s advocacy centers. Serving Pulaski County, they offer a multidisciplinary effort that helps children who have been abused. Long says that their goal is to bring these children to a safe place as quickly as possible, “minimize trauma” during the investigation, and then create a plan for them to move forward.
“Our job is to bring everything to one location, and make sure no information falls through the cracks,” Long says.
The CPC coordinates efforts between law enforcement, medical professionals, and workers from the Department of Human Services (DHS) as they investigate allegations of abuse. Located in the Clark Center for Safe and Healthy Children at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, their services include medical and mental health services and forensic interviews from trained professionals. After the initial investigation, the CPC also creates plans with the children and their caregivers to move forward and heal from the experience.
Long calls their services “collaborative and encompassing.” They’re also a private, non-profit organization, and all of their services are offered for free. The CPC also can only offer their services when an investigation has been opened and a state agency has referred a child to their care.
As executive director, Long oversees nearly every aspect of the CPC, including their daily operations, their fundraising efforts, their many programs, and their partnerships with other organizations and state agencies.
“The most important aspect of my job is to support and hold up our staff, because these are really traumatic situations,” Long says. “I want it so everyone has the support they need.”
Long has been an advocate her whole life. She volunteered with Girls, Incorporated in Jonesboro growing up, and has worked with the Arkansas Foundation for Skin Cancer. She also spent time working in the Japanese countryside, where she taught English and worked with non-profits to form cross-cultural connections and help women in the community. She joined the CPC in 2011, and has been helping the organization grow ever since.
The CPC has also expanded rapidly since they opened their current location. In 2016, when they moved into the Clark Center, they served around 340 kids. That number has grown to over 800 children in just four years, and Long says that the CPC is currently looking into a new location to serve and advocate for even more children in Pulaski County.
For more information on the Children’s Protection Center, and how to donate to their cause, please visit their website.