Who are we? We are a team of volunteer trained lawyers who make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child.
We empower an abused child to:
We help kids be kids and recapture their childhoods! We give children roots to grow and wings to fly. We advocate for our kids, so that they will be the SUPERHeroes they were born to be!
Our mission is to end and prevent child abuse and neglect in Montgomery County through legal services, advocacy and education.
Children are harmed every day, often by someone close to them. MCAP attorney advocates represent and protect the needs and interests of these vulnerable children, offering representation and support as they participate in the legal and social service arenas. As a unique victim’s agency, MCAP provides child victims with a voice, helping them heal and learn to trust others, with a goal of safety in a nurturing environment.
More than ten years ago, in a courtroom in Montgomery County, a nine-year-old little girl just finished testifying against her mother’s boyfriend. She told a Montgomery County jury how the man sitting before her in the courtroom had molested her while she was at home, in her bathtub. While the little girl spoke bravely from the witness stand, her mother sat directly across the courtroom – right behind her boyfriend– identified as the defendant. As the little girl left the witness stand, she looked around the courtroom, eyes wide. It slowly dawned on the child that her own mother sat with “the bad guy,” so this steadfast little girl made a conscious choice to sit by herself on the other side of the courtroom – behind the prosecutor’s table. Throughout the traumatic experience of the trial, the little girl continued to sit alone, with no one to rely on, no one to support her, no one even to hold her hand. It was clear to her, notwithstanding her tender years, where her mother placed her allegiance.
It is hard to imagine such a situation. Yet scenarios like this are more common than you might think. In fact, since 2004, more than 4,100 children have needed our help due to the actions and omissions to act by parents, family members, caretakers and others causing domestic child abuse and neglect.
Two former assistant District Attorneys, the Honorable Wendy Demchick-Alloy and the Honorable Risa Vetri Ferman, and the (now former) President of the Montgomery Bar Association, Marc R. Steinberg, Esquire, witnessed this scenario in 1999 and had the vision and the courage to help child victims. The Montgomery Child Advocacy Project, MCAP, was founded to operate in conjunction with the Montgomery Bar Association, the Montgomery Bar Foundation, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office, the Office of Children and Youth, schools, counselors and physicians to address a critical need to have child victims of abuse and neglect represented in the courtroom. A grassroots effort began, led by the founders, to move the program out of the District Attorney’s office to become a separate, nonprofit, entity.
MCAP was formally incorporated in 2004 to provide free legal representation for cases involving children who are victims of abuse and/or neglect including, but not limited to, physical abuse, sexual abuse, gross neglect, medical neglect, endangerment, dependency, as well as child witnesses to serious crime. Abused and neglected children were part of the legal and social service arenas without anyone to represent their specific needs, while the perpetrator had legal representation. These children range in age from newborn to 18 years and span every socioeconomic background.
MCAP has grown into a vital resource for many abused children in Montgomery County. As word continues to spread, more new cases come in daily. Sadly, the evaluation of our success comes from our ever-increasing numbers. Child abuse, neglect, and endangerment are pervasive, long-standing problems. With the incidence of poverty, addiction, pornography, and internet predators on the rise, child abuse remains prevalent. MCAP advocates provide support and legal expertise to many needy children who otherwise would be left without someone to protect them.