Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman has been honored as a ‘Woman of Worth’ by L’Oréal Paris for her work as the co-founder of Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center, according a recent press release.
Mission Kids, Montgomery County’s first and only child advocacy center, is a local nonprofit that provides support for victims of child abuse. Ferman is one of 10 honorees from across the country that will be recognized for her dedication to philanthropy and passion for making a difference in her community.
“This generous award will help Mission Kids protect and support children who have been abused," Ferman said in the release. "Just as importantly, I hope this national award will open a community dialogue about the reality of child abuse and the ways all of us can be involved in keeping kids safe in our own communities. It is truly a privilege to be among the company of these 10 amazing women.”
As a prosecutor for nearly 20 years with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Ferman specialized in the prosecution of cases involving child abuse, sex crimes, domestic violence, and homicide. Beyond the physical and emotional scars inflicted upon child abuse victims by perpetrators, Ferman saw the additional trauma inflicted on children during the investigative process.
Founding Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center
Victims that disclosed abuse were interviewed multiple times by various law enforcement, social services and medical professionals, often forced to repeatedly recount and relive their abuse. Seeing many victims unable or unwilling to testify in court, even at the expense of justice, Ferman was determined to change the system and make a difference in the lives of victims and their families.
As District Attorney, Ferman used her unique role in the community to improve the ways children’s rights are protected. She co-founded two local nonprofits that provide support for victims of child abuse: the Montgomery County Child Advocacy Project, which provides pro bono legal services for abused children, and Mission Kids, a child advocacy center that coordinates a multi-disciplinary team response to child abuse.
Ferman used her skills and experience to help change a system that historically caused additional damage to victims of child abuse, even as the legal and social services community tried so hard to help and protect the children and achieve justice. She believes that everyone has an obligation to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center helps abused children find their voices, sending them a powerful message that they matter, that what happened to them was wrong and not their fault, and that everything possible will be done to promote justice and support their healing.
In order to create Mission Kids, Ferman secured the cooperation of all of her county’s 52 police agencies as well as the Office of Children and Youth Services in the county. Today, as a result of her efforts, every child abuse victim in the county comes to Mission Kids, a safe, child-friendly facility designed to make them as comfortable as possible while they report the abuse. Children speak to specially trained interviewers and only have to tell their stories one time. Through Mission Kids, all of the professionals who respond to child abuse cases – law enforcement, social services, prosecutors, victims’ advocates, medical and mental health personnel – collaborate to ease the criminal justice process for the child. The goal is to help each child victim begin the healing process sooner, while improving the efficiency, quality, and effectiveness of every investigation.
Vote for the “Women of Worth” National Honoree
Public online voting for the Women of Worth National Honoree is open from through Nov. 21 on womenofworth.com. Visitors to the site can vote once per day. The honoree with the most votes will be named the National Honoree and win $25,000 for charity.
Voters can help Ferman win $25,000 for Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center by voting and by spreading the word to your friends and family.
For more information about the Women of Worth program, honoree bios and to vote for the 2012 Women of Worth National Honoree, please visit womenofworth.com.