GRAND JUNCTION (KKCO) -- Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman visited Grand Junction today to tour the Western Slope Center for Children and to discuss how to cut down on instances of child abuse, particularly sexual assaults of children.
According to reports, there have been more than 75 fatalities or ‘egregious incidents of child maltreatment’ — the two most severe, legal classifications of child abuse cases so far in 2016 in Colorado.
The Western Slope Center for Children is the only facility of its kind in our area, making them a critical resource when kids in crisis have nowhere else to turn.
But it's fighting an uphill battle with increasing instances of sexual assaults on children at the same time the facility is suffering a lack of resources.
“We know that there are family issues and frustration when there is a money crunch in the family, that can affect how people treat each other, and kids kind of bear the brunt of frustration,” said Coffman.
Coffman said she wants to bring more resources to kids on this side of the Rockies.
“Whether we want to accept it or not child sexual assault is an issue nationwide, in the state of Colorado and in our community,” said Melissa Lytle, the executive director of the Western Slope Center for Children.
Coffman recognized the additional demand that has been placed on the staff at WSCC and she is optimistic additional resources can be brought to bear on the problem.
“I don't anticipate these numbers going back down, unfortunately, I think we are going to continue to see an increase or at least see stable numbers across the board,” said Lytle.
Lytle said the center is taking steps to expand the facility, staff and programs.
“This one of the key programs to serve children and families when they may be having a crisis,” said Coffman.
Lytle said the center needs to double the amount of space available and figure out how to fill the gaps in the community for victims of sexual assault, “to make sure there aren’t barriers for children and families to get the healing then need.”
WSCC hopes to become a hub for training and for treatment of kids who have experienced physical and sexual abuse. Lytle said this is preferable to sending people to the Front Range.