Child advocacy center in Minneapolis asks for public support after difficult few years


Child advocacy center in Minneapolis asks for public support after difficult few years

A Minneapolis nonprofit that works with kids who have experienced or witnessed abuse is asking for help from the community.

CornerHouse was one of the first child advocacy centers in the country when it opened back in 1989, performing forensic interviews and offering services such as therapy.

It now serves about 900 children every year as young as 2 years old.

Those children may have experienced sexual or physical abuse or witnessed a traumatic event such as domestic violence, a homicide or community violence.

While staff members say the caseload has not necessarily increased, they have noticed the needs of individual children and families grow more complex.

“More families are coming in with higher needs than before,” said Stephanie Randolph, a forensic interviewer at CornerHouse. “We have a lot of kids who talk about living in hotels. We’ve heard kids talk more about being hungry.”

Randolph said meeting a child’s basic needs is an essential step to helping them heal through trauma.

“What we know a lot of times too is kids and families can’t heal as quickly if they’re not in a stable environment, so we really need to get them stable before we can help them heal from the trauma they’re experiencing,” Randolph said.

CornerHouse partners with hundreds of other nonprofits, such as food shelves and housing services, to provide those types of resources to families.

“We’re trying to take away these other stressors the families may have so they can focus on their child and the healing,” CornerHouse Training Director Jane Straub said.

But Straub said the COVID-19 pandemic and economic uncertainty over the last few years have left many nonprofits struggling.

“Financially, it was devastating to quite a few nonprofits in Minnesota. Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits had to close their doors,” Straub said. “So now there are just fewer resources and that impacts the work we do with families.”

CornerHouse is now asking for help from the community to help meet these needs.

There is a wish list page on its website where people can purchase everything from shampoo to diapers to therapy tools in one click, similar to a wedding registry.

The organization is also accepting financial donations to help fund the services it provides free of charge to families.

“We’re essential, the work that we do. We need people to support us and we cannot do this work alone,” Straub said.