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Good news, bad news for Child Advocacy Center

By By ANNA M. LEE Managing Editor
The Escambia County Commission was recently awarded a grant for $19,095 to go toward the operation of the Escambia County Regional Child Advocacy Center. The grant was made available by the U.S. Department of Justice and will be administered by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA).
Director Kathy Hill said those funds will go toward the salary of the Center's forensic interviewer Stephanie Jackson.
The Center's purpose is to act as advocate for children in Escambia County who are victims of abuse. The Center works with the Sheriff's Office, the district attorney's office and local law enforcement to provide a safe environment for children who are involved in abuse cases.
Jackson's role is very important to the process. She interviews children who have been victims of abuse so that they only have to tell their painful stories once. Jackson has conducted 32 victim interviews since she began working with the Child Advocacy Center in May of this year, Hill said.
Thanks to this grant from ADECA and a grant from Southern Pine Electric Cooperative, Jackson's place in the Center has been secured, Hill said. Jackson is able to get very detailed interviews from children to be used by investigators and the court, all while in the safe environment of the Child Advocacy Center.
However, not all funding requests have been approved for the Center. Hill said the Center was recently denied a $50,000 grant from the National Children's Alliance -- funds that were granted last year.
The Center's operation has relied entirely on funding from grants and local contributions. Now, Hill said, the Center's board is regrouping and sending out letters to seek alternative funding. The Center will continue to operate at its location across the street from the Sheriff's Office, but whether it will continue to be open five days a week, Hill is unsure.
Hill said the County Commission has been very supportive of what the Child Advocacy Center is doing. The Sheriff's Office has also dedicated resources to the Center by assigning Detective Kenny Brazile as a full time investigator of abuse cases.