Project Harmony grew out of the vision of several Omaha community professionals and advocates to create a better system of protection for abused and neglected children. The vision was to not only create an integrated response system but also to develop a single child friendly location where all the professionals would come together to serve each child. They wanted the child to have to tell his or her story only once. They envisioned a system with joint accountability where no child would fall through the cracks. Project Harmony opened its doors in 1996.
Today, Project Harmony is one of the largest Child Advocacy Centers in the nation.
This is not due to an overwhelming volume of child abuse, but due to the level of collaboration that comes together to address the issue – collectively. The Child Advocacy Center model has been replicated to impact child abuse as a best practice community response. When Project Harmony was established, there were about 35 Centers operating across the United States. Today there are more than 850 – serving a collective 325,000 children each year.
With incredible support of the Omaha Community, now more than 200 professionals are co-located under the Project Harmony roof, and are working together to provide abused children the best possible community response. The sharing of critical information across the disciplines is being coordinated and orchestrated by Project Harmony staff and everyone is working closely with each other.
Child Protective Services is on-site at Project Harmony.
The Omaha Police Department has detectives and staff exclusively assigned to investigate child abuse crimes at Project Harmony. Forensic interviews and medical exams are provided by Project Harmony and other nonprofits on-site provide support to children.
Essentially, all forms of government (City, County, State and Federal) coming together with collaborative nonprofit agencies – all working to respond from one location, addressing one issue, one child at a time.
Our service area includes eastern Nebraska (Douglas & Sarpy County) and 16 counties in southwest Iowa.
In 2001, Project Harmony helped establish statewide networks of child advocacy centers in Nebraska and Iowa. Through them, Project Harmony is able to help mentor new and emerging centers, educate legislators, and provide training for professionals. The statewide networks are now accredited by the National Children’s Alliance. To date, there are seven centers in Nebraska and five centers in Iowa.