JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -The Northeast Arkansas Children's Advocacy Center held an open house Monday fortheir new facility.
Supervisor with the Arkansas State Police CrimesAgainst Children Division Lea Ann Vanaman, says she knows from experience howvital an organization like the Children's Advocacy Center is to a child thathas suffered from abuse. "It's sad that we have to have a facility likethis," Vanaman said. "But we're very fortunate, here, in Jonesboro tohave a facility that we can bring our kids to. It's a child friendly atmosphereand we're no longer interviewing kids in the back of a police car or on thefront porch of their home or even in the home with the suspect, there, insidethe home. We're now able to schedule appointments and bring the kids here tothe Advocacy Center."
President of the Board Sue McDaniel says they'rethrilled to be working out of this new facility. "This is a dream cometrue for us," McDanield said. "We never had any idea thatwe would ever be in this kind of facility at this stage of our development.This time last year, we were located in a small set of rooms at the servicescenter. We were happy there, but all the sudden we got notice that we werebeing evicted because they were closing the services center. We had 90 days toget out. We started looking around and thought oh, my goodness. Where are wegoing to be? We were fortunate to locate this facility."
McDaniel says it was through a number of generousdonations and a lot of hard work that they were able to get their new home upand running. "It was great, but everything had to be remodeled."McDainel said. "It had been the side of another business and therooms were totally not what we needed. We were fortunate that a group ofsub contractors were willing to donate their time, building supplies, materials.We had an architect who drew up the plans and it was so exciting because weended up being able to be here and everything was totally donated."
The "Pinwheels for Prevention" Award waspresented to Danny McDaniel, the President of Ramseys, Inc., for all his hardwork and efforts in helping the Advocacy Center make their new facility areality.
Vanaman says the Advocacy Center is an importantresource they use to both them and the child they're trying to help. "Thereports that we get come through the child abuse hotline that is manned by theArkansas State Police," Vanaman said. "When a report come in it'seither assigned to the Department of Human Services or to the Crimes AgainstChildren Division. We do the most severe child abuse, the state police does. Webring the kids here to videotape the interview. Like I said, it's a childfriendly atmosphere. We want to get the information. We want to know ifsomething has happened to this child or if something didn't happen."
Vanaman says out of the reports they received lastyear, approximately 80% were reports for sexual abuse. McDaniel says thepurpose of the Children's Advocacy Center is to keep the child fromexperiencing further trauma by being forced to tell their story over and overagain.
"Child abuse is the hardest story a child willever tell," McDaniel said. "But a Child's Advocacy Center is the bestplace for a child to tell this story because we provide a child friendlyenvironment for the child that has been reported to be a victim of abuse. Tohave a forensic interview and hopefully just one interview."
The Northeast Arkansas Children's Advocacy Centerhelps all victims under the age of 18 in Northeast Arkansas. For moreinformation about the Northeast Arkansas Children's Advocacy Center, log ontothis website.