Covington County is bringing in a new resource to help abused children undergo therapy.
The addition of a new child advocacy center to the county means victims won't have to drive across county lines to get the help they need. and in turn help authorities put more predators behind bars.
There were about 150 child abuse cases in 2012 in Covington County, but only about 20 predators were put behind bars. With a new child advocacy center, authorities hope to improve the way they deal with victims, which then could lead to more convictions.
The Director of the Covington County Department of Human Resources says, “Having the games and things that make them feel comfortable, and as they move through the system talking to the professionals, they're in a place that is not an office setting or in the courtroom.”
It would be the first advocacy center in Covington County; a place where sexually abused children could receive help when recouperating from trauma. Covington County Chief Assistant District Attorney, Gracy Jeter, says the center would also lessen the trauma by the number of interviewers who deal with the victim. Dropping the number from as many as fifteen people to three.
“Make it a more comfortable environment to talk about and the social worker and the prosecuters and the police officers can kind of watch from a closed circuit t.v. and get what they need without having to put the child through it multiple times,” Said Jeter.
Steve Moore is an Andalusia grandparent of three and believes it's important to have an advocacy center close to home. “They mean a lot to us and to have someone closer by where it can be fresher on [the children's] mind to talk to them would be great,” Said Moore.
The county is searching for a place to put the advocacy center, but the do know it will be in Andalusia. The pilot project for this has already kicked off and they hope to have it ready for use this time next year.
It's still too early to know the cost of putting an advocacy center in the county, but the district attorney's office says their goal is to raise about $200,000 for the center.