Nurses, teachers and agency leaders met Tuesday morning with one goal in mind â€“ to create an accredited Childrenâ€™s Advocacy Center in Lincoln County.
â€œIt can be done,â€ said Cathy Purvis, executive director of CAC of North Carolina. â€œThatâ€™s the nice thing â€“ itâ€™s been done all kinds of places. Itâ€™s great for kids, and itâ€™s great for professionals.â€
The meeting was organized by the Coalition Against Child Abuse, a non-profit agency that has wanted a CAC in Lincoln County since its inception.
Such a center would provide a safe space for abused children. The center would keep interviews with the victim limited, rather than forcing the child to tell their story to a number different agencies.
The Department of Social Services, District Attorneyâ€™s Office, law enforcement and other agencies dealing with child abuse cases would all work together through the center.
â€œItâ€™s to prevent them from further traumatizing the child,â€ said Purvis.
Representatives from the school system, DSS, Communities in Schools, Health Department, Pathways, Lincolnton Police Department and Department of Juvenile Justice all attended the meeting.
Purvis explained step by step what would be required of a center and what funding would be available for an accredited center.
â€œYou can meet the accreditation standards in a million different ways,â€ she said. â€œOne size doesnâ€™t fit all, and the reason this can work is you can fit it with your community.â€
One large step the coalition made towards creating a center was hiring a director, Kathy Vinzant. Now its focus is on finding a building.
â€œThatâ€™s our biggest hurdle, the place,â€ said Jane Finger, president of the Coalition Against Child Abuse. â€œOnce we have the place, I think things will fall together.â€
Once a location is found, it would provide an environment in which agencies would meet and work together to discuss child abuse cases.
â€œThe dynamic of that interaction is that the knowledge of all those folks begins to influence people,â€ said Purvis.
In such an environment, ties are made and cases go smoother.
â€œAfter a while, everybody begins to trust one another,â€ said Purvis.
Agency leaders in Lincoln County have already shown a willingness to work together.
â€œThe people in those positions are very supportive of children and childrenâ€™s issues,â€ said Finger.
Now she hopes the community will show the same support. Funding such an endeavor is usually not easy.
â€œIt is if you can just get to the people, but a lot of people donâ€™t want to hear it because they know if they hear it, theyâ€™ll have to respond.â€
She has faith that a building will be donated in the near future.
â€œIf the timeâ€™s right, itâ€™s going to happen,â€ she said.
Until then, the coalition will continue working with Purvis.
â€œWe expect this woman to help us solidify some ideas and clarify what we need to do,â€ said Doris Little, vice president of the coalition.
by Sarah Grano