CAMP HILL, Pa. – The Rite Aid Foundation announced Thursday that Chris Kirchner, executive director of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance (PCA), in Philadelphia, Pa., has been awarded its KidChamp Award.
Kirchner was recognized for three decades of advocacy and outreach to ensure healing and justice for sexually abused children in Philadelphia. In recognition of her service, Ms. Kirchner received a $10,000 donation to the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance from The Rite Aid Foundation and a $500 Rite Aid gift card during a special ceremony at Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.
PCA is Philadelphia’s only child advocacy center for sexually abused children. The nonprofit organization brings together a team of professionals to allow abused children to tell their stories using a coordinated process in a safe and welcoming facility. When a report of child sexual abuse is made in Philadelphia, PCA’s intake team coordinates the investigation with a multi-disciplinary team approach, working closely with representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, the Department of Human Services, and mental health and medical professionals on behalf of the victim.
The Rite Aid Foundation created the KidChamp Award in 2017 to recognize individuals in communities served by Rite Aid. Those who are recognized, have made a meaningful difference in the lives of youth by advocating for their health and wellbeing, championing education and academic growth, while creating safe environments for children and teens to live and grow. Kirchner is the sixth recipient of the award.
“Chris is the embodiment of what it means to be a voice for the voiceless. Child sexual abuse is a national crisis that changes children’s lives forever. However, thanks to the work of Chris and the PCA, these children can reclaim their lives and ensure that the abuse doesn’t define who they are,” said Bryan Everett, chief operating officer of Rite Aid Corp. and president of The Rite Aid Foundation. “Not only has Chris worked to ensure that PCA fulfills its mission, she has also championed to expand PCA’s facility and provide care for more children than ever before, ensuring justice and healing for the innocent.”
Three years after PCA opened in 1989, Kirchner took on the role as the Alliance’s executive director. Initially, PCA was housed in a 3,300 square foot space in West Philadelphia with only one forensic interview room that allowed for only one child and family to be seen at a time. Ms. Kirchner made it her mission to advocate for a larger site and ensure PCA could serve every child who has faced sexual abuse. In 2010, the facility moved to a larger space in Center City that served 100 children a month.
In 2013, after seeing the incredible work she and PCA had accomplished, the City of Philadelphia built the Philadelphia Safety Collaborative to co-locate PCA and all partner agencies. The state-of-the-art facility houses the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services social workers, child abuse prosecutors and PCA staff. This larger facility allows for 250 children to be served a month. In 2018, PCA responded to 3,274 reports of child sexual abuse, conducted 1,957 forensic interviews and ensured 1,264 children received counseling therapy.
“It is truly an honor to be presented with this KidChamp Award. I am incredibly thankful to The Rite Aid Foundation and KidCents for their support of PCA and our efforts to provide a safe space where children can heal and begin to reclaim their lives,” said Chris Kirchner, executive director, Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. “Our work has helped change how we approach sexual abuse cases for children. I’m so very proud of what we have accomplished and promise to continue advocating to ensure these children continue to get the support and care they deserve.”
As part of her role at PCA, Kirchner also oversees the Northeast Regional Children’s Advocacy Center (NRCAC), a federal grant project that provides training and technical assistance to communities in the northeastern United States that are interested in developing or maintaining a Child Advocacy Center. In addition, she and members of her management team lead trainings locally and nationally about the topic of child sexual abuse, and the importance of a collaborative response.