An $85,000 grant was awarded to AWARE’s Lewis & Clark County Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) to help continue its efforts in caring for children who are victims of child abuse.
The Montana Board of Crime Control contacted CAC back in June with the good news. The team began administering the Victims of Crime (VOCA) grant with the beginning of the fiscal year, July 1.
According to Paula Samms, CAC director, the team applied for the grant back in January and submitted a revision in May. Plans for the extra funds include
- making the director position full time,
- hiring a therapist to work as an advocate,
- working with adults or children of crimes who don’t have the ability to pay and
- working with families during CAC appointments.
Advocacy team at work
As the director of CAC, Samms is the coordinator and mental health representative of the CAC multidisciplinary team. Her job is to gather the entire team when a case of abuse is reported in Helena, or surrounding areas.
The team also includes professional representatives from the child protection agency, law enforcement and prosecution; pediatricians; FBI; and a victim advocate.
“We have a really great team,” Samms said.
By gathering the team, the consultations, interviews and evaluations are brought to the child. A special kid-friendly room at the AWARE office in Helena is available for the child to be forensically interviewed. A camera is subtly placed and fed into another room, which allows the rest of the team to follow the discussion.
Samms says caring for the children is difficult but rewarding. In 2015, the CAC team saw 175 children, and so far in 2016, they have seen 90.
“It’s an honor to work with families during difficult times,” she said.
Read more about the program on AWARE’s here.