Funding Planned for Child Advocacy Centers

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 04/01 2014 04:28PM

Updated 04/01 2014 05:15PM

BEDFORD - There are just two child advocacy centers in our region. One in Jefferson County, and another that just opened in Bellefonte. Officials in Bedford County who say the need for a similar center there continues to grow.
“The more money we can put into Child Resource Centers the better,” Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins says.
And it looks like the state agrees.
Between two new bills just passed by legislators, and additional funding set aside by Governor Corbett in his annual budget, more than give million dollars could be on the way to help fund child advocacy centers.
 “Knowing that they're looking to expand and having child advocacy centers closer, especially to rural areas would be really beneficial to Bedford County,” Bedford County Children and Youth Services Administrator Lisa Cairo says.
The centers help children who have been sexually or physical abused, by providing one stop for them to share their story.
“Before we had them you had Children and Youth Services conducting interviews, medical examiners conducting interviews, law enforcement conducting interviews. Some kids were interviewed 3 and 4 times,” Higgins says.
Currently Bedford County's biggest problem is getting the victims to the centers.
They travel two plus hours to either Pittsburgh or Harrisburg .
“The trauma that they have to go through re-telling the story and the examination and then the two hour trip back,” Cairo says.
Officials say the benefits of the centers far outweigh the travel, but they're hopeful this new funding leads to more opportunities closer to home.
“Over the course of time you're going to save a lot of money and protect children’s lives,” Higgins says.
With the state placing a bigger emphasis on child sex abuse crimes, Bedford County expects the need for these centers to continue to grow. According the new legislation starting in July of
2015, a large portion of those funds will be set aside to help build new centers throughout the state

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