"Thank you for giving me my smile back."
That’s the message Child Protect Executive Director Jannah Bailey recalled receiving from a child abuse victim who had received free, professional support and counseling through the Montgomery-based child advocacy center. The third-grader had completed a series of therapy sessions offered through the center at no-cost and was taking positive steps toward resuming everyday life.
With pinwheels, ribbons and other special displays colored blue for Child Abuse Prevention Month and teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, April offers visible reminders of how important these services are to victims. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs wants to remind Alabamians that free, professional help is always available for victims at nonprofit organizations across the state.
“We want to ensure that survivors of child abuse or sexual assault know that services are available 24-hours a day to help them escape a violent situation,” ADECA Director Jim Byard Jr. said. “The dedicated staff members and volunteers working with these nonprofit organizations deserve our gratitude for the vital services they provide each and every day.”
For child abuse victims and their families, a network of children’s advocacy centers provides a safe, child-friendly environment where specially trained staff members interview victims. The interviews are recorded, sparing victims the stress of having to recall the details of the abuse to multiple agencies. The centers also coordinate with state and local law enforcement throughout the investigation and prosecution of cases, provide an advocate to assist victims and their families and offer free counseling and therapy sessions.
Click here for a list of Child Advocacy Centers in Alabama.
Other organizations give a helping hand to victims of rape and sexual assault. The free services include 24-hour crisis lines, emergency shelter, forensic exams, counseling, court advocacy, safety plans and more.
Click here for a list of Crisis Centers.
The services are supported by grants administered by ADECA from funds provided by the U. S. Justice Department and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In the past year, 40 agencies received $4.2 million to assist child abuse victims and 14 agencies received $2 million to aid sexual assault victims.
Along with grant funding, many of these organizations rely on private donations to ensure that services are always available.