Editor’s note: Every Monday, the Muscatine Journal profiles a local figure who responds to questions provided by one of our reporters.
MUSCATINE, Iowa — The work of Amy Alvarez and her staff of three is to interview area children who may have been exposed to trauma, including child abuse, violence or bullying.
Alvarez is program manager for the Mississippi Valley Child Protection Center at 1600 Mulberry Ave. in Muscatine. The center pays $1 each month to Trinity Muscatine Hospital to lease its Victorian-style house.
Center staff interview children referred there while representatives from the Department of Human Services and/or law enforcement personnel listen from a room nearby.
The center also offers children play therapy. That service and the interviews are performed in a room with simple furnishings, designed to provide as little distraction as possible.
Tours can be arranged by calling 563-264-0580.
Name: Amy Alvarez
Family: Husband Sonny is a Davenport firefighter. They have three children: Bailey, 3, and twins Rolan and Keagan, 19 months
Education: Bachelor of Science in Social Work, Wartburg College in Waverly, 2004; Master of Social Work, St. Ambrose University in Davenport, 2008
Work history: Started with the agency as a forensic interviewer in 2008 and was named program manager in January 2011
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What’s the center’s purpose?
To give voices to children who have experienced trauma. A child comes in who may have been exposed to something inappropriate, like abuse or witnessing violence, and we use our experience and our training to ask them questions appropriate for their age.
What is law enforcement’s role in your work?
The Department of Human Services and law enforcement watch from another room and gain the information they need as part of their investigation. ... They can suggest a question to the interviewer (through a microphone plugged into the interviewer’s ear) if they need more information.
How many children do you see each year? Where do they come from?
We see about 140children each year from seven counties.
How are you funded? What’s you’re budget?
The Iowa Department of Public Health provides most of our budget, with foundations, businesses and the United Way providing the rest. Our budget is about $250,000 per year.
Are interviews admissible in a court of law?
Not in Iowa. The County Attorney can review the DVD of the interview. It’s another investigative tool.
What’s next for your agency?
We’re holding a Champions 4 Children Walk Saturday, May 14. We’ll start here and walk downtown and then back. (Visit www.getmeregistered.com for more information. The fee to participate is $15.)