Child Advocacy Center coming to Demopolis

Published 11:46 am Friday, September 7, 2018

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Demopolis is set to be home to the Black Belt Children’s Advocacy Center that will serve Marengo, Greene and Sumter counties.

With the addition of the site in Demopolis, all counties in the state will have access to such a center. Recently, the Black Belt Regional CAC was unanimously granted Pilot Center Status by the Alabama Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers (ANCAC).

According to Marengo County District Judge Vince Deas, a center of this nature is overdue.

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“I’ve tried a number of abuse cases, and I have seen the value and importance of a child victim having CAC services. Bud Kramer began the movement in Madison County decades ago and the children here in our rural area need and deserve that same level of assistance,” Deas said. “It is also crucial for these kids to receive post-prosecution services and to strengthen our prevention programs. I’m convinced that the best way to provide this is through a Children’s Advocacy Center.”

A CAC exists for two main purposes. First, when a child is neglected or abused, the center provides a safe, child friendly environment for him/her to tell their story and to receive appropriate services. Secondly, a CAC brings together all of the entities that have a stake in child abuse cases: child protective services, law enforcement, mental health and medical professionals, prosecutors and victim advocacy. 

“By providing these services, Alabama’s CACs help to greatly lower the trauma to child abuse victims, and to help coordinate the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse cases,” said Katie Beth McCarthy, the ANCAC State Executive Director. “With so many children being abused or neglected in Alabama, I believe that every community needs a CAC and we are so excited that the children in this region will now have increased access to services.”

Jim Ed Clayton, president of the board of directors for the Alabama Network of Child Advocacy Centers, added, “Workers at Child Advocacy Centers all across Alabama are excited about the new Black Belt Regional CAC joining our network. This new CAC will provide much-needed victim services for abused children and their caregivers. Until now, children in this geographic area were without these services.  With the establishment of the Black Belt Regional CAC, we are very pleased to say that the services of Child Advocacy Centers are now available to every child in Alabama.  Congratulations to Judge Deas and all who worked so hard to make this happen.”

“Being in the courtroom, I can tell you that our area needs these services. I wish we didn’t, but it isn’t going away,” said Judge Deas.

As the center gains establishment, the primary needs are financial support and community involvement.

“Our District Attorney, 17th Circuit Bar Association, Department of Human Resources and Law Enforcement are very supportive of the new center and they realize how much a CAC will help their investigations and prosecutions, as well as how much the community as a whole will benefit,” Deas said.

McCarthy said, “It is my fervent prayer that the communities in Marengo, Greene and Sumter will rally around their new CAC and work together to make it a strong center for their kids. We are so grateful to Judge Deas for his tireless efforts for these children.”    

To make a donation or provide other support to the Black Belt Regional CAC contact Charlotte Webb at 334-341-9025 or 334-295-5838 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, September 5 issue of the Demopolis Times.)