Children’s Advococy Center requests additional funding from supervisors

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Representatives from the Southwest Mississippi Child Advocacy Center requested an increase in funding from the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors in order to provide sufficient care for the child abuse cases in the county.

SMCAC saw a total of 223 children in five counties — Copiah, Lincoln Amite, Pike and Walthall — last year for forensic interviews.

“It’s July and we’ve already seen 219 children this year,” SMCAC Executive Director Kim Walley said. “In Lincoln County last year, we saw 38 children, just for abuse. This year, we’ve already seen 36 children. We feel like by the end of the year, we’re going to double our numbers here in your county with the children that we’ve seen.”

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Walley asked that the board consider increasing the center’s funding from $9,500 to $12,000 during its budget meeting to compensate for the new programs and personnel in Lincoln County.  The board did not vote on the request at Monday’s meeting.

During her request, Walley explained to the board the role a child advocacy center takes in investigating child abuse cases.

“We’re one of nine child advocacy centers in the state of Mississippi,” Walley said. “We see children when a report of child abuse has been made. The report will come in on the 1-800 number or from law enforcement. They refer those children to us for forensic interviews.”

The child advocacy center works collectively with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, Brookhaven Police Department and Lincoln County DHS office to investigate each child abuse case, Walley said.

“We come together under one roof,” Walley said. “We try to do one interview of that child. It’s a one-on-one interview, with a trained interviewer. All the other members of the team are watching in another room by television.”

SMCAC offers children in child abuse cases free therapy services, medical treatment and court testimony, Walley said.

“We have actually hired a therapist for Lincoln County,” Walley said. “We’ve always had onsite therapy, but we found that children were having to travel from Lincoln County to McComb.”

The new Lincoln County child advocacy center therapist’s office will be in Dr. Anne Henderson’s office, Walley said. She will begin Aug. 1.

All of the law enforcement, DHS and SMCAC representatives in attendance Monday encouraged anyone to call the DHS child abuse hotline, 1-800-222-8000, if they suspect a child is being abused.

In other board business:

• Representatives from the Morgan & White Group informed the board of the services the insurance company could provide the county.

• Two county residents spoke on the condition of several roads in District 2 and District 4. One of the residents filed a formal petition to get Cade Lane, Greenwich Lane and Jakes Trail repaved. The board explained to both residents the funding predicament the county is currently in, and tried to compromise on the best solution to fix the roads.

• County engineer Ryan Holmes informed the board that Dugan Engineering will begin inspecting 183 county bridges in September. The board approve Holmes’ request to begin preparing for the project. The county is required by federal law to inspect certain bridges each year.

• The board voted to refinance an Industrial Park bond in order to save the county $120,000 over the next 10 years, per county attorney Bob Allen’s recommendation.