UPDATE 6/26/23 2:10 p.m.
A little over a month after cutting ties with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, several organizations say they’re ready to resume the relationship.
The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Traverse City Police and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services all cut ties with TBCAC over concerns about its leadership’s handling of finances and staff. On Monday, the groups issued a joint statement saying in part:
“After internal restructuring at the center, a noticeable increase in transparency, ongoing efforts to support employees, and meaningful discussions that led to restored trust among partners, the parties determined that reestablishing our former partnership was in the best interest of all concerned.”
They say their work with the center will resume immediately.
5/19/23 11:20 p.m.
The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office is no longer partnering with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center. This decision was made last Thursday, but only made public on Friday.
By ending this partnership, it means that the prosecutor’s office will no longer have a presence when conducting forensic interviewers. These interviews are normally done with law enforcement, DHHS and the prosecutor present so that a child only has to tell their story once.
But now two meetings will have to be done, which the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center says will weaken their program.
Nolle Moeggenberg, the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor is a former member of the board at the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, and she said that she stepped down because she “personally couldn’t support the organization anymore.”
“If I couldn’t personally support the organization, then my office probably should not be tied to it either,” Moeggenberg said.
She says her issues are with the board and the organization’s overall lack of transparency, not the services the center offers.
“I’m not in any way implying that any money was taken from CAC, but that money was being misappropriated within the CAC,” Moeggenberg said.
As a member of the board, Moeggenberg says she reached out to the organization for documents on where funding was going, but she was turned away. The advocacy center says Moeggenberg was asking for employee salary information.
“We do not share individual staff salaries, and that was one request that Noelle had made,” Lisa Migazzi, the Chief Executive Officer for the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center, said.
Migazzi also say that an audit on the organization was just recently conducted.
“It was overwhelmingly positive with no substantial recommended operational or reporting changes,” Migazzi said.
Another concern the prosecutor pointed to was she felt that the former CEO’s role on the board was inappropriate.
“You can’t be, you know, on the board and working in the place at the same time,” Moeggenberg said.
But the current CEO says she sees nothing wrong with the former CEO’s involvement.
“The former CEO is now on the board, and our board is quite supportive and also serves on various committees,” Migazzi said.
Migazzi says that she hopes other partners aren’t scared away by the prosecutor’s decision, because without community partners the TBCAC cannot operate in Grand Traverse County.
“The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office pulls out and they’re able to encourage other partners to do the same,” Migazzi said.
In the end, both the prosecutor’s office and the TBCAC are hoping to find a resolution that can suit them both and the children in the community. In the meantime, the prosecutor’s office is making plans to continue on without TBCAC.
Additionally, Moeggenberg told 9&10 News that if the Board Chair Patricia Warner and former CEO Ginger Kadlec stepped down from the board, she would consider restoring the partnership.
5/19/23 3:41 p.m.
The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office says they are ending their relationship with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center over concerning practices.
The Prosecutor’s Office accuses TBCAC leadership of undermining the organization’s mission through practices that have hurt its supporters, its employees and its budget.
We are working to bring you more information on this story. You can read the full statement from Grand Traverse County below:
On May 11, 2023, the conclusion was made that the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor’s Office can no longer partner with the Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center (TBCAC) in the intervention and prevention of child abuse.
This decision was based on the practices of the TBCAC Board leadership who, in my opinion, have neglected their obligation to ensure that the TBCAC is a well-run, trauma-informed, and financially supported organization that reflects best practices.
While there are no concerns about those at the TBCAC who work each day to help children, I am seriously concerned about the actions of leadership at the Board level. As a former Board member and multi-disciplinary team partner, myself and others repeatedly voiced concerns about expanding too quickly, a lack of transparency and collaboration among and between Board members, a budget that is in the red, and concerns about the treatment of employees and several recent employee resignations. These same concerns have been expressed by long-standing community activists who have generously donated their time and money to the TBCAC. Leadership has been dismissive and unresponsive.
Finally, and most alarming, is that I have seen the center, once a trauma-informed organization, inflict trauma on some of its biggest supporters on more than one occasion. As long TBCAC leadership engages in that type of conduct, my office will not support the organization.
It was my hope that the dissolution of this partnership would be a catalyst for change within the organization leading to a renewed dedication to the mission of the TBCAC. A meeting was held on May 18, 2023, with several members of the TBCAC board and MDT members from the area. I had sincerely hoped that these issues could have been resolved prior to any harm being done to the reputation of the TBCAC.
My office will continue to support the intervention and prevention of child abuse and is actively working with local partners to continue to provide quality intervention using a multi-disciplinary approach to the investigation of child abuse in our community.
Noelle R. Moeggenberg