Clearly, not all divorces involve child abuse. But just as clearly, child abuse and incest do occur and are problems which should not be ignored. Fortunately, here in Augusta, Georgia, resources exist to help address these serious problems. We have talked before in this divorce blog about the fine work done by Safe Homes of Augusta. Today, I just want to tell you a little bit about the fantastic work done for abused children by Child Enrichment and the Child Advocacy Center. (http://www.childenrichment.org/)
I am proud to be a part of the history of the Child Advocacy Center. When I was a young state prosecutor, here in Augusta, a group of us professionals who dealt with child abuse cases, (from DFACS, the local social services agency, juvenile court, the sheriff's department, and D.A.'s Office), realized that abused kids were not being well taken care of by the system. Kids were actually being interviewed, and probably scared to death, at the old jail. And a few child molestation cases were actually slipping through the cracks and not being prosecuted, due to lack of inter-agency communication! There were some inter-agency feuds and turf battles.
So, some of us got together and formed the Augusta Child Advocacy Center, whose goals were to provide a friendly, homelike setting where abused kids could be interviewed. (We worked hard, raised funds and got a house for this purpose). All the agencies also began meeting together and coordinating their efforts to help the kids. Also, we established a protocol for interviewing children which is now being used statewide. (Indeed, there are now child advocacy centers modeled after us located throughout the State of Georgia!) The center also provides free counseling for the kids and their family members. Since then, the Augusta Child Advocacy Center has merged with, and continues its fine work at, Child Enrichment.
I am proud to have been a co-founder and the first president of the Augusta Child Advocacy Center! And I tip my hat to our other incredible organizers: Janet, Anchell, Judy, Sheryl, Gary, Wayne, Thelma, David, Kathy, and so many others, who were all there in the beginning!
What resources exist in your community to help abused children? Have you ever considered volunteering to help in one of your community's charitable organizations? You will be glad you did!