Cricket Center Loses Leader To State Advocacy Position

BERLIN – A local child advocacy center began the new year without its leader at the helm.


Wendy Myers

Last week, Cricket Center Executive Director Wendy Myers concluded a 15-year career at the facility. Myers, who started at the Cricket Center in 2006, is now overseeing the state’s 24 child advocacy centers as the new executive director of the Maryland Children’s Alliance.

“When the previous chapter director retired, I became interested in this position,” she said in an interview this week. “I wanted to have statewide impact and to be involved in statewide decisions involving child welfare and really just recognizing the need not just here in Worcester but throughout the state.”

The Maryland Children’s Alliance is a nonprofit organization created to serve sexually abused children throughout the state. In her new role, Myers said she will be working closely with child advocacy centers and advocating for child welfare matters at the state level.

“I’ll be working closely with legislation in child welfare matters and I’ll be traveling to all 24 child advocacy centers in the state to support them and determine what individual needs they have at the local level,” she explained.

Myers said one of her top priorities includes seeking new ways to fund local child advocacy centers.

In Maryland, every county is required to have a child advocacy center, which brings together a multidisciplinary team made up of law enforcement officers, child protective service personnel, prosecutors, advocates, mental health therapists and medical personnel to collaborate on child abuse cases. The state mandate, however, is unfunded.

“We have to compete with other local nonprofits for funding, and we are mandated by the state of Maryland to conduct investigations and prosecutions in this way and also to support child victims by way of case coordination and advocacy for each child,” she said. “We were able to do that very successfully here in Worcester, mostly because of our generous community. But a lot of jurisdictions in the state don’t have the resources we do in Worcester County. I don’t believe there should ever be a county that has to compete with other nonprofits locally in order to provide services to victims of child abuse.”

Looking back on her 15 years as the Cricket Center’s executive director, Myers said she is most proud of the team that has been established and the work that has been done.

“We became a model in the state,” she said. “In Worcester, we have very strong partnerships, and I think back to years ago the way our child welfare system responded to reports of abuse and how we respond today. I know that we have established the mechanism that will best protect our children and also respond to child abuse.”

Myers said she is also eager to see the Cricket Center continue the work she leaves behind, including its prevention programming and a capital campaign to build a new facility.

“As statewide chapter director, I will be cheering for that to happen,” she said.

While Myers completed her tenure at the Cricket Center last Friday, she said she would continue to support the facility in her new role. As she continues to work remotely from Worcester County, Myers said she will be close by to lend her service dog, Josiah, to children in need.

“I am happy to report that Canine Companions, the Cricket Center and Maryland Children’s Alliance all recognize how valuable Josiah is to our kids, and we’ve reached an agreement,” she said. “When I am able, I will be providing Josiah for our kids. Our team at the Cricket Center will alert me when he’s needed and every time I’m able I’ll make him available for forensic interviews, therapy appointments and to accompany kids in court.”

Myers noted her former position at the Cricket Center has yet to be filled, but that she is eager to work alongside its new executive director.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.