New Summit County Children’s Justice Center director brings wealth of experience
Ted Walker has seen firsthand the devastating effects of child abuse.
For two decades, he worked for the Division of Child and Family Services, investigating countless child abuse reports, managing foster care cases and providing assessments for children whose situations were being evaluated by the courts.
The experience, he said, has given him a deep gratitude for the work of Children’s Justice Centers. The organizations provide safe spaces for children who have been victimized to recount their stories to criminal justice officials in a way that minimizes further trauma.
“Kids who have experienced these things already have a traumatic experience that they have been through,” he said. “Making it as comfortable as possible for them and dealing with this process is very important so it doesn’t cause more harm.”
Now Walker, a Heber resident, has the opportunity to lead a Children’s Justice Center. He recently took over as director of the Summit County Children’s Justice Center after the previous director, Christie Hind, stepped down last month.
Summit County Attorney Margaret Olson lauded Walker’s career-long commitment to helping children and said she is eager to see his vision for the Summit County CJC take shape.
She referred to him as a “turnkey director” due to his wealth of experience working with Children’s Justice Centers throughout the state.
“He knows everyone in the business,” she said. “Because he is intricately familiar with what each (team) member is supposed to be doing while they’re working at CJC, he is highly qualified to be able to support those team members.”
Walker takes the helm of the organization as it prepares to enter a new chapter. The Summit County CJC hopes to soon move into a standalone facility the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center, a nonprofit that supports the CJC, purchased last fall.
The facility, located on Silver Summit Parkway, will be significant upgrade over the CJC’s current home in the Sheldon Richins Building, Walker said. The new location will offer more privacy for children and is much larger than the current one — which will allow the CJC to provide additional programming, such as group therapy sessions.
Shepherding the organization through that transition will be especially rewarding because he was involved in the initial discussions a few years ago with former director Melissa McKain about finding a new home for the CJC. He said progress toward reaching that milestone has happened quicker than anyone predicted at that time.
“Once we get this done, this is going to be amazing,” Walker said. “It is going to be like a flagship for the state as far as CJCs are concerned.”
However, it is unclear when the transition to the new facility will occur. The Friends of Children’s Justice Center is in the middle of a campaign to raise roughly $2.7 million to renovate the new facility and make it operational. The organization has raised approximately $1 million so far.
But the effort has been challenging. Walker said it’s often difficult to get people in the community involved because it’s unpleasant to think about the reality of child abuse. Increasing awareness about the CJC in the community is one of his main priorities because child abuse is common, even in idyllic Park City.
“It’s not just in Kamas or Coalville,” said Walker, who spent the previous four years investigating cases for the DCFS in Summit and Wasatch counties. “It’s in Park City. It’s in Summit Park and it’s in Jeremy Ranch. It’s happening here. I’ve been to Deer Valley. I’ve been everywhere.”
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