With nominations open for our 2024 Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids Awards, the Pa Family Support Alliance team wanted to catch up with a past winner, and one name immediately came to mind: Chief Charles T. Streightiff.
The Huntingdon Borough Police Department chief — who was the first law enforcement official to receive this recognition — was one of four individuals recognized in April 2023 for going above and beyond the call of duty to support and protect Pennsylvania’s children. Pennsylvania Sen. Judy Ward, who represents Huntingdon, helped to present the award to Chief Streightiff during the ceremony.
Our questions are in bold with Chief Streightiff’s answers in italics.
What was your reaction when you found out you were a 2023 Blue Champion for Safe Kids Award winner?
When I initially received the email notification, I first thought it was spam. I went back to the email, opened it, and was completely surprised. I remember that I felt overwhelmed and very appreciative. As I stated to many, this award has been the most meaningful accomplishment in my career. To be recognized by a peer(s) for the work that one has done is beyond rewarding in and of itself. This was the first time in 20-plus years in law enforcement that I was able to take a second and say that the collaborative work being done here in Huntingdon County has made an impact.
Tell us about helping to plant the thousands of blue flags representing substantiated child abuse cases.
The planting of the blue flags was emotionally moving. I was honored to have been able to participate in this ceremony with my wife and so many colleagues from across the Commonwealth. As I was planting each of the flags, I remember thinking that we are giving a voice to all the victims being represented by each flag. I felt such solidarity as I looked at everyone participating and standing together to support the work that has and continues to be done in regard to child abuse.
How did it feel to receive the award at the state Capitol from Sen. Judy Ward?
I was truly honored to have Sen. Ward speak on my behalf during the award ceremony, and the presentation of the citation from the Pennsylvania Senate was moving. I was very appreciative that Sen. Ward was able to take time from her schedule to attend the Blue Ribbon for Safe Kids Award ceremony. I am grateful for the senator’s commitment to this cause, and her continued support and recognition for the need of Children Advocacy Centers throughout the Commonwealth.
What inspired you to become an advocate for local children and families in need of help?
It was my work as a criminal investigator that inspired me in the realm of advocacy work. Working with organizations such as the Abuse Network and Huntingdon House on a local platform, broadened my understanding of the importance and role of victim advocacy work. It was also through my work as a criminal investigator that I recognized that relations with our local children and youth services needed to improve for an optimal response to children and families in need of help. I recognized that agencies were working separately and not understanding the roles and limitations of each other; that by working together investigations would be improved and we would provide the best approach providing overall services and response.
Please describe your work with children and families in the community.
I have taken a trauma-informed approach, along with a victim advocate mindset regarding my work with children and families within the Huntingdon community. Working in collaboration with Kelvin Abrashoff, director of Huntingdon County Children’s Services, has provided me the opportunity to continue to expand and promote our ideal approach to investigations of crimes against children as a team. We are committed and driven to provide a plethora of support services and appropriate responses to all reports. I maintain a high expectation for all entities when investigating crimes against children and continue to educate myself and others on new ideas, trends, and methods.
What project, program, initiative, or effort protecting children are you most proud of?
The program/initiative that I am most proud of is the team investigative method that has been developed between my agency and Huntingdon County Children’s Services. Our goal is to provide the best method approach to crimes against children while limiting re-victimization continues to receive attention at the local, state, and national levels.
Diana McWilliams (executive director of Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Centre County), Mr. Abrashoff, and I continue to work on the satellite CAC for Huntingdon County. I also will be implementing the Huntingdon Endangered At Risk Youth Response Team (H.E.A.R.T.) to school districts throughout Huntingdon County during the month of October. This would serve to create an early warning “handle-with-care” alert between law enforcement, children and youth agencies, and local school districts to provide timely and valuable information about concerned youth that otherwise would go undetected and unreported. I am extremely excited about this new program, with hopes that other agencies throughout the commonwealth will adopt the program and implement it as appropriate.
Thank you, Chief Streightiff, for all that you do to #ProtectPAKids!
Do you know someone who should be recognized for their work in helping to keep Pennsylvania’s kids safe from abuse and neglect? Nominate them today for a 2024 Blue Ribbon Champions for Safe Kids Award!