Children’s center needs our support

Published 11:34 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2014

When a child needs medical attention, there is almost always some anxiety involved for that child.

When that same child needs attention because he or she has been intentionally harmed – most likely by someone he or she knows – seeing a health care or mental health professionals can add to the trauma.

Thanks to the hard work of a group of people who worked together to establish a child advocacy center in Covington County. The center, announced last week, will be a partnership between Andalusia Regional Hospital, the Department of Human Resources, the district attorney’s office, and law enforcement agencies throughout the county. It will be housed on the campus of ARH.

Initially, the new CAC will operate as a central place where services can be provided to children. Amy Herrington, ER nurse manager at ARH, and RN Tammy Joyner volunteered to obtain the training needed to provide exams for children who have been abused.

Already, that means children don’t have to be transported to Birmingham by law enforcement officers for an examination.

DHR director Lesa Syler said the group’s goal is to have a local CAC director, and likely a contracted, part-time employee who will conduct forensic interviews. Before than can happen, they must undertake a fundraising campaign to fund the office. Once the office is certified, the Covington County CAC also will qualify for state funding.

The City of Andalusia has already agreed to provide funding and labor to renovate the space at ARH for the center. The County Commission likely will vote to join the effort today.

It is heartbreaking to know that 20,000 child abuse cases will be reported this year in Alabama, and that half of those will represent physical abuse to a child. Most of those children will know the person who hurt them.

But it is comforting to know that, as a community, we are willing to work together to make dealing with those problems as comfortable as possible for our children.

We salute those who have brought this dream to our community, and challenge civic groups and individuals to lend their support to help make the dream come true.