‘Jersey girl’ gives back to abused children in home state
A woman who grew up in New Jersey is now spending her adulthood helping the most vulnerable children of her home state.
Nydia Y. Monagas, who proudly describes herself as a “Jersey girl,” is the executive director of the New Jersey Children’s Alliance (NJCA) and has worked in the child advocacy field for 20 years. She said she “just fell in love with the field, and the rest is history.”
A clinical psychologist and Montclair State University professor, she recently added being a member of the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect to her busy schedule. Monagas said her work with the NJCA allowed her to build statewide relationships and gain exposure, which led to being appointed by the governor to a three-year term on the task force. One key task will be to help develop a statewide child abuse prevention plan. Finding ways to better educate the public about child abuse and neglect, as well as improving investigations and services, are other tasks.
“My role is to help the state agency meet the needs of children in the child welfare system,” Monagas explained.
Monagas also led a collaborative effort between the New Jersey Forensic Nurse Examiner Program and NJCA to help New Jersey forensic nurses from 21 Child Advocacy Centers get accredited training in child abuse. They joined forces with Evidentia Learning to provide this education effort.
“NJCA provides support, technical assistance and training to all of the different partners involved with child abuse cases,” Monagas said. In New Jersey, a multidisciplinary team responds to child abuse cases through the Child Advocacy Centers that NJCA supports. The team includes law enforcement, prosecutors, medical and mental health experts, victim advocates, child protective services and trained forensic interviewers, the NJCA website states. Forensic nurses are also part of the team, which meet at the CACs.
“We are always trying to find ways to enhance learning of all multidisciplinary team members and ensure that they have the training needed to provide best-practice services to kids and families,” pointed out Monagas. To that end, 200 New Jersey nurses are training with several Evidentia Learning online e-learning modules: Medical Evaluation of Child and Adolescent Sexual Abuse; Challenging Cases of Child Sexual Abuse; Human Trafficking – Child Sex Trafficking; and Trauma-Informed Care in Child Sexual Abuse. “This training will ensure children have access to the best level of care,” Monagas said.
She added, “Our goal, ultimately, is to empower communities to identify, prevent and respond to child abuse, provide training and technical assistance to the various professionals that serve these kids, and then to really ensure that children are on the right path of healing and have access to the services they need to make sure that they become thriving, happy, older children and adults.”
Find out more about the NJCA at www.njcainc.org, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Discover how the National Children’s Alliance helps abused children. Learn about the available e-learning modules developed by Evidentia Learning in partnership with the most experienced and respected authors on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
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By Laura A. Schmid