New nonprofit supports Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center |

New nonprofit supports Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center

Susan Richer, center, with Community For Childrens Justice board member Debi Scoggan, left, and Melissa McKain, executive director of the Summit County Childrens Justice Center, right, on Sept. 8.
(Courtesy of Park City Community Foundation)

For Susan Richer, it really does take a village to raise a child.

Nurturing and protecting children is a cause that has always been near and dear to Richer’s heart. She said it’s mainly because “I am just a kid at heart myself.”

“You put me in a room of adults and I would much rather play with the kids,” Richer said. “Kids are our precious little angels and someone has to take care of them.

“It takes all of us doing it, not just the parent,” she said.

Richer has worked as a guardian ad litem advocating for neglected children and in 2015, she became involved in the Summit County Children’s Justice Center.

Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center is one of 22 centers across the state providing child-focused programs where victims can be interviewed and recorded by qualified officials in a setting aimed at further preventing trauma to the victims. It is a non-profit, government agency and funding is provided by Park City Municipal Corp, federal grants and private donations.

The Children’s Justice Center, working under the County Attorney’s Office, opened in the county in 2012. Officials with the Justice Center, which operates in the basement of the Sheldon Richins Building, interview children and teenagers under 17 years old.

“As I have gotten to know the center, I’ve realized that they are in dire need of a new location,” Richer said. “I went to Diane Foster at Park City and I guess the timing wasn’t right so I got a group of people together with the common interests of helping these children.”

Richer formed the Community for Children’s Justice, a nonprofit organization with 501c3 status. The organization’s board is comprised of 14 members, including Richer.

“Right now they do interviews by the DMV and then they have to send the kids down to Salt Lake for further interviewing and testing,” Richer said. “They could spend up to 14 hours doing the investigation and testing and it is just so traumatic. We need our own Children’s Justice Center up here.”

Melissa McKain, director of the Children’s Justice Center, said the center has had an “extraordinary response to child abuse” with the help of 15 specialists that are “already helping families heal and find justice in Summit County.”

“What we need is an appropriate and private facility to provide the support we already have in place,” McKain said. “The Community for Children’s Justice will help us build the type of facility that our community deserves.”

Earlier this month, the Park City Community Foundation presented the second annual Trisha Worthington Award to Richer for her work in establishing the new nonprofit.

“But she has been doing so much for the community before that,” said Ollie Wilder, Park City Community Foundation programs director. “We know her as an amazing member of the community with a huge commitment and huge heart.

“The Summit County’s Children’s Justice Center has been playing an increasingly valuable role with respect to children who have been victims of violence,” Wilder said. “While it was meant to be a public/private partnership, it didn’t really have a private counterpart. Susan has been critical in enabling the community to show its support.”

The Community for Children’s Justice will be having a soft launch during the Live PC Give PC day of fundraising, Richer said, adding that she expect the organization to be “tremendously successful.”

“This community is so giving, but I don’t think the community at large knows what goes on and they don’t know the statistics. It’s not just those in poverty or those of color. The range is big,” Richer said. “There are very few things in this life that we can claim to accomplish without the help of others and I got the award I got because of everyone on the board.

“These kids just need a place to call their own,” Richer said.

Summit County