Center that aids at-risk children working through budget cuts

Published 8:30 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

Most parents work tirelessly to ensure the absolute best concerning the health and happiness of their children. What usually tops their lists are nutrition, education and safety.

However, not all children have someone watching out for their welfare. And some children, though very loved, become victims of child abuse at the hands of others.

April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month involves creating awareness of the plight of these children who endure abuse or neglect.

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With a mantra of “helping victims become children again,” the Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center hopes to help communities recognize and react to children in trouble. By helping to strengthen families, SWMSCAC hopes to prevent and bring awareness to what some children face.

SWMSCAC serves Pike, Walthall, Amite, Lincoln, and Copiah Counties. Working alongside local law enforcement, Child Protection Service and the district attorney’s office, it seeks to help provide justice for child abuse victims. Last year Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center served 794 children and families throughout its five counties.

“The benefit of having the child advocacy center in the community is that case investigations are coordinated from the onset,” Executive Director Kim Walley said. “They begin more timely, fewer cases are missed, families receive appropriate referrals for the proper medical exams, children receive evidence-based therapy sooner and the CAC collaborative model reduces duplication of resources.”

The mission of Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center is to utilize a multidisciplinary team approach when responding to child abuse in a way that helps to reduce trauma for child victims and their non-offending caregivers through the use of advocacy, therapeutic intervention, education, prevention and referrals for appropriate services.

“[Working together with other entities as a team] assures that all services provided by the team are performed at the highest level to benefit the child in his or her recovery and also increases the outcome of successful prosecutions of child offenders,” Walley added. “Child abuse awareness is imperative so that we become aware and recognize the prevalent abuse suffered by children.

“The Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center served 794 children and their family members last year and these are just the cases that have been brought to us.  There are many cases of abuse that have gone unreported.

“The communities’ ability to recognize child abuse and the mandate to report is crucial to keeping our children safe.”

Southwest Mississippi Children’s Advocacy Center is a place for child victims of abuse to tell their stories in a safe, non-threatening, child-friendly environment. A comprehensive array of services include forensic interview, onsite trauma-focused mental health services, advocacy, medical and community service referrals, case management and court testimony.

Magnolia Blues BBQ in Brookhaven offered the 5th Annual Smokin’ Out Child Abuse fundraiser Tuesday, with proceeds from the night going to the advocacy center.

This event was important because while having a child advocacy center in the community can increase a child’s ability to report, SWMSCAC has dealt with a severe 50 percent reduction in their federal grant funding that resulted in the closure of the Brookhaven satellite office and the laying off of some staff.

SWMSCAC will have to rely more heavily upon county support, donations and fundraising events. They welcome individual, business and civic organization monetary and supply donations.

For more information, call SWMSCAC at 601-684-4009 or visit