Our Multidisciplinary Team Members
Our local medical partners complete three important functions: determine whether a child needs medical attention, provide an opportunity to collect evidence, and give assurance to children that nothing is wrong with them. The TreeTop Center's hope is to partner with specially qualified and trained nurses in the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program to perform these exams on site and free of charge.
Local law enforcement agencies typically lead the investigation of child or youth sexual abuse when the offender is not related to the victim. That agency is responsible for public safety and the initial response to abuse allegations, which may include interviews, arrests, and criminal charges. They assist the District Attorney's office in collecting information to pursue legal proceedings, as needed.
Mental Health Professionals
The MDT includes the essential role of the mental health therapists to help lead children and families towards healing. The hope of the TreeTop Child Advocacy Center is to provide on-site mental health consultation, and individual and family counseling/therapy, for abused children and their non-offending family members. These sessions will help the entire family recover and cope with their painful experiences.
The District Attorney's office is responsible for prosecuting crimes across our communities to help hold offenders accountable and seek justice for victims. Local prosecutors work closely with the other responsible agencies on the Multidisciplinary Team to streamline the investigation process.
Child Protective Services
A Child Protective Services employee typically leads the investigation of child or youth sexual abuse when the offender is potentially related to the victim or is involved in an intra-familial relationship. CPS is the agency responsible for assessing child abuse and neglect within a community, and is then able to further assess for safety. CPS supports families through additional resources and referrals.
A skilled forensic interviewer talks with each child asking developmentally appropriate, non-leading questions, to allow the child to share their experience and provide information.
A specially trained victim advocate serves as each child’s support, keeping them fully informed about the process ahead. Advocates provide crisis intervention and support throughout an investigation and prosecution. Children and family members are provided information about their rights as victims.
"Safe & Comfortable"
"The idea is to have a safe, comfortable environment for children who've been victims or witnesses to sexual assault. For children, it's sometimes an intimidating experience to go to a police station."
Bruce Brown, District Attorney
"The Best Way to Respond"
"Evidence shows that Child Advocacy Centers are the best way to respond to child sexual abuse. What's really great about the space is that it's a family environment that's warm and welcoming."
Nicole Bortot, Child Welfare Manager, Summit County
Child Advocacy Centers invest in strategically selected furniture, toys, books and decorations to encourage play and comfort.
Renovation and Technology
Our space, within the Breckenridge Library, will transform into a state-of-the-art CAC with new walls, medical equipment, and a recording system.
Child Advocacy Centers experience ongoing expenses, such as utility bills, rent, office supplies, and salaries for administrative staff members.
The Breckenridge Library - Home to the TreeTop Center
Familiar, Comfortable, and Stable
Why a Child Advocacy Center?
Interviewing children about traumatic events requires specialized training and techniques, because children’s cognitive and verbal abilities are still developing. First developed in the 1980s, Child Advocacy Centers are designed to reduce the stress on children that can be created by traditional investigation and prosecution procedures, and to improve the effectiveness of the response.
Two agencies in Summit County represented on the multi-disciplinary team have donated their staff time and arranged two interviewers to attend forensic interview training: a child welfare caseworker from the Summit County Department of Human Services and a police officer from the Breckenridge Police Department.
Colorado Needs Child Advocacy Centers
*The 88 child sex assault cases of 2015 and 2016 were compiled from DHS reports alone. These cases are intra-familial, and do not include the several third party sex assault investigations conducted by the law enforcement agencies of Colorado’s 5th Judicial District.
The TreeTop Center: FAQs
Who Are We?
The TreeTop Child Advocacy Center provides a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals, victim advocates, child protective services and criminal prosecutors. Each team member has advanced training necessary to best serve the children of Colorado's 5th Judicial District.
What Do We Do?
When a young member of our community is victimized, team members convene at a centrally-located, child-friendly facility to conduct a thorough investigation. Our aim is to focus on the immediate and on-going needs of the child, provide excellent criminal justice services, and ensure coordinated case management across agencies.
Where Do We Work?
The TreeTop Child Advocacy Center provides regional support for the children of Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake and Summit Counties. Our facility is designed to provide comfort and familiarity to children after a traumatic incident, with state-of-the-art settings for medical evaluations and forensic interviews. Child advocacy centers strive to limit a victim's exposure to repetitive, formal interviews in intimidating settings, such as police stations or hospitals.
When Do We Assemble?
TreeTop Center team members are on call to investigate, treat, manage, and prosecute crimes involving the children of our region. Allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, or child trafficking are best treated at a child advocacy center, but child witnesses of other crimes or traumatic circumstances can benefit, too.
Why Are We Valuable?
Children exposed to trauma deserve coordinated resources and collaborative justice. To achieve those goals, we focus on the restorative needs of the child, as well as the best evidence and investigation techniques available. We offer co-located resources at a familiar, comfortable, and stable environment to lessen stress on young victims. This method also lowers the burden of travel on local families.
How Can You Help?
We are a local non-profit organization, dependent on support and donations from the community. If you would like to contribute to our goal of providing exceptional care to children of Colorado, please consider making a donation. We are a 501(c)(3) public charitable organization; donations may be tax deductible.
The TreeTop Center's Values
Restoring the lives of children and families after abuse.
Striving toward just outcomes for victims of abuse, and protecting all kids from abusers.
Ensuring children, families, and MDT members can trust their center and the CAC model.
Our Favorite Resources
The National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC), located in Huntsville, Alabama, revolutionized the United States’ response to child sexual abuse. Since its creation in 1985, the NCAC has served as a model for the 1000+ Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) now operating in the United States and in more than 27 countries throughout the world.
National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs). Formed in 1988, NCA has been providing support, technical assistance, and quality assurance for CACs, while serving as a voice for abused children for more than 25 years. A Children's Advocacy Center is a child-friendly facility in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy professionals work together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse, and hold offenders accountable.
Our Board of Directors
Bruce Brown has served as the elected District Attorney for the Fifth Judicial District since 2013. During his tenure, Brown has been dedicated to victims’ services and a renewed focus on juvenile diversion, emphasizing principles of restorative justice and crime prevention.
Strong relationships between the District Attorney and local law enforcement, of which there are seventeen departments throughout the Fifth Judicial District, are critical to the success of Brown’s office.
During the 2014 legislative session, Brown’s testimony facilitated the passage of a new law extending a form of Jessica’s Law, which enhances penalties for sex offenders.
Passionately committed to obtaining justice for crime victims, while constantly aware of the rights and protections afforded to those who have been charged with crimes, Brown’s balanced background of working on both sides of the criminal justice system give him a unique perspective among prosecutors in Colorado.
Nicola Erb, PhD serves as the Assistant Chief of Police in Breckenridge Colorado. During her 29-year career she has had the opportunity to work for a variety of department structures; all of which have a distinct focus on community based service.
Due to the convenience of shift work, Dr. Erb was also able to deeply engage in consulting services for federal, state and local entities in order to increase community based collaborations aimed at improving the quality of life for children and families during a large part of her career.
Dr. Erb completed her doctoral studies in Human and Organizational Development on the topic of Drug Endangered Children and has been a part of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children since its inception. She served locally as a D.A.R.E. officer and has a deep passion for youth and drug prevention issues, thus taking on numerous projects involving families, teens and children.
Dr. Erb has published a number of research projects regarding the healing of families, drug endangered children and the impacts of methamphetamine labs to innocent victims.
Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons leads the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, where he directs the work of 73 dedicated law enforcement and civil employees in their duties to serve the residents and visitors of Summit County, Colorado. He first joined the organization in 2006 and has served as Patrol Deputy, Detective and Operations Division Commander.
FitzSimons was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, where he was an avid surfer, skateboarder and competitive marathon runner. He joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1990. From 1990 to 2005, FitzSimons served in various patrol assignments, the Special Problems Unit, the Gang Unit and undercover narcotics work.
During his tenure with LAPD, FitzSimons was promoted to the ranks of Patrol Sergeant and Detective. In those positions, he investigated complex murders, robberies, sex crimes, crimes against persons, gang crimes, burglaries, thefts, frauds, embezzlements and narcotics violations; he also conducted covert surveillances and personnel complaint investigations. FitzSimons participated in responses to numerous historic incidents and events, including the Los Angeles Riots (1992), Malibu Wildfire (1993), Northridge Earthquake (1994), O.J. Simpson Murder Case (1994), Malibu Floods (1995), North Hollywood Shootout (1997) and Southern California Wildfires (2003).
FitzSimons moved to Summit County in 2005, briefly serving in the Summit County 911 Center. In 2006, Sheriff John Minor recruited him to join the Summit County Sheriff’s Office as a Patrol Deputy. FitzSimons was promoted to Detective in 2006, drawing on his expertise gained in Los Angeles to conduct complex criminal investigations. In 2008, FitzSimons was promoted to the rank of Operations Division Commander, overseeing Patrol, the Criminal Investigations Division and Special Operations. In addition to oversight of functional operations, he also ensured compliance with policies, procedures, regulations and standards. He also filled the roles of both Sheriff and Undersheriff in their absence. In 2013, FitzSimons took on the added responsibility of leading the Summit County Combined Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).
FitzSimons was elected Summit County Sheriff on November 8, 2016. FitzSimons has spent his career building and maintaining partnerships and collaborative relationships with numerous local agencies and organizations, as well as state and federal agencies.
In 1990, FitzSimons married his wife Lena; the couple have two grown children who also call Summit County home. Sheriff FitzSimons has traded his surfboard for skis, but still enjoys skateboarding. He is an avid outdoorsman who also enjoys hiking, mountain biking, trail running, snowshoeing and snowmobiling.
FitzSimons has served as a technical consultant in the film industry on numerous projects, including “Street Kings,” “End of Watch,” “Prisoners,” “Sabotage,” “Nightcrawler,” “Fury,” “Southpaw,” “Stronger” and “Bright.”
Joanne Sprouse is currently the Director for the Division of Human Services for Summit County Government. She has worked for Summit County Government for over 30 years and currently oversees the administration of the Economic Security Unit, Child Welfare Unit and the Community and Senior Center.
“At the Department of Human Services, in collaboration with our community members, we are constantly looking at ways in which we can support and help our clients. TreeTop is one of these initiatives, where all of the leaders in the community can agree, that our children and families will be served with a facility such as this.”