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County to receive designated child abuse victim’s advocate

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Children who are survivors of abuse in Montgomery County will have support closer to home.

Lebanon-based Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center has received funding to place a family and victim’s advocate in the county, which currently doesn’t have one designated.

The advocate can support the child during the reporting and prosecution of abuse and connect families to services including medical and mental health providers.

“[They are] really holding their hand through the whole traumatic process that they’ve been through,” said Kristi Reynolds, the center’s director of trauma services.

Montgomery County’s Sexual Assault Response Team, which has members from local law enforcement and social service agencies, reached out to the center after realizing the need for a locally-based advocate.

The center hopes to have someone hired for the job by the first of the year. The part-time advocate will be based at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau. The funding comes from the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

“The advocate can take the victim to the hospital and get an exam done if they choose, they can talk to the police with them and see if they can support the victim’s family as well, because it’s not just the victim that’s going to be traumatized through this … it’s the family as well,” said Shelby Rusk, SART coordinator.

At the Youth Service Bureau, the advocate will work alongside staff from the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program.

“This partnership is kind of the perfect partnership because of our CASA program at the Youth Service Bureau, so serving those kids who’ve been abused and then being able to provide the advocate who will be in our building and be able to work in conjunction with the CASA program — it’s a match made in heaven,” executive director Karen Branch said.

If you suspect a child is being abused, call 911 or the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-800-5556.

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