If you went to St. Paul, Indiana, the 1,000 residents there could tell you—in minutes—how far they are from all of life’s necessities. Everyone knows how much time it is to a shoe store, toilet paper, groceries, and a steak dinner.
If a child near there was abused and needed help from a child advocacy center, that child, family, and law enforcement is 64 minutes away from the Children’s Advocacy Center of Southeastern Indiana in Dillsboro for help.
Meanwhile, Greensburg—a city of 12,000 people with all of its many stores and services—is a scant 17-minute drive from the St. Paul community. On October 12, a new CAC by CACSEI will also be available there. A short distance away from St. Paul and the thousands of other nearby residents in Decatur and surrounding counties.
CACSEI will initially operate its new Greensburg location as a satellite CAC. Meaning it may not be open every single day but will be there as-needed and on regular days. Staff will be on-call every minute of every day to head to Greensburg if a child is in urgent need. But, over time, “It will become a fully operational center just like our Dillsboro office,” says Stephanie Back. She is the Executive Director of CACSEI and has been working with her team to open Greensburg for over three years.
This is not CACSEI’s first time opening a new location. The team already operates a satellite CAC in Madison, on the Ohio River. Together, over 500 children a year come to one of their two locations. The reduced travel time to a closer-to-home location a new CAC provides means Indiana Department of Child Services Caseworkers won’t have to waste as much time driving long stretches of highway. Law enforcement will be closer, too, saving money on fuel and staff time. Caregivers who might otherwise have to take a day off from work and lose income now have more flexibility. And more importantly, it means less stress on kids anxiously sitting in the backseat of a car.
“We’re entirely focused on what’s best for the child,” says Back. “Decatur and its surrounding counties are currently being served either by no one or another CAC well over an hour away. We see Greensburg as a critical location for providing services in the northern part of southeastern Indiana and helping an underserved area of the state.”
Jan Lutz, Director of the Indiana Chapter, consulted on the location. “Little-by-little, we’re shrinking the last few pockets that are far from a CAC. This Greensburg location means our goal of every child in Indiana being a 45-minute drive away or less to a CAC is closer.”
The Greensburg office will be a few minutes away from a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital medical location in town, too. CACSEI partnered with Cincinnati Children’s a year ago to provide medical and mental health screenings after their interview with the CAC. That program is expanding in its second year.
“This process has taken a really long time,” says Back. “We’ve really dug in over the last three years to get it done.” That includes finding a location, raising money, building out space, and overcoming a pandemic. An open house slated for mid-October has been scaled back, but the donors, supporters, and fans of the project have not been forgotten.
“Everyone we’ve spoken to in Decatur County has been really supportive,” adds Back. “Donations of furniture, paint, signage, and even landscaping has helped free up money we’ve been able to use for interview equipment and supplies. We can’t thank them enough.”