American Institute of Architects, American Correctional Association Design Award Honoree
Through the cooperative efforts of public and not-for-profit sources, Kimmerle Group led the development of the first child advocacy center in Morris County, New Jersey, now known as “Deirdre’s House.”
The Deirdre O’Brien Center has become the national model for Child Advocacy Centers for child victims of abuse and/or neglect and for children that have witnessed domestic violence. It is an integral component of the Morris County Prosecutor’s office war on sexual predators.
The Center is a converted historic, residential structure located opposite the historic Morris County Courthouse and under the jurisdiction of New Jersey’s Historic Preservation Office, which oversees preservation issues throughout the state.
The Center provides a complex and sophisticated venue for the interview, observation and investigation of child abuse in a child-friendly, safe and sensitive environment. There, multidisciplinary teams work to address the entire cycle of family abuse in a single and coordinated process that includes counseling, mental health and child welfare participation.
The Deirdre O’Brien Center was first initiated by the efforts of Freeholder James O’Brien in the formation of a not-for-profit entity with the goal of developing new approaches to the investigation of sexual crimes against children. Kimmerle Group enhanced the effectiveness of this program through the commitment of preliminary and development services on a pro-bono basis. Initial efforts were focused on laying out the basic concepts for the center and the methods through which members of the prosecutor’s office, Division of Family Services and the Department of Mental Health would participate in the process and the ultimate prosecution of offenders.
The completed center received a special merit award from the American Institute of Architects and the American Justice Association and has toured nationally as part of the AIA Committee on Justice Exhibition. It has also been featured at the ACA and American Jail Association Convention.
Addressing the issues of crime against children in any context is a daunting challenge. The creation of this center, completed at the very emergence of the national victim advocacy movement, was and is an important accomplishment for Kimmerle Group. It represents an opportunity that truly comes along only a few times in a career.