Three child advocacy centers in central Indiana have received funds for multiple new services, programs, and infrastructure from the United Way of Central Indiana.
Sylvia’s CAC, Boone County
Sylvia’s CAC in Lebanon received $19,200. Executive Director Kassie Frazier says $4,200 has already been use to install a new VidaNyx-based recording system. “We can now share all our forensic interview recordings with law enforcement, prosecutors, and the Department of Child Services through the cloud.”
The system, which promises eleven layers of encryption and two-factor authentication to log everyone who accesses a video, replaces a lost technological world where DVDs were manually handed and driven around. “Now everyone can download the video, which is stored with VidaNyx for two weeks,” says Frazier. For many partners, this change was necessary as most computers manufactured in recent years lack a DVD drive. VidaNyx can also produce AI-generated transcripts of videos and bundle photos from easel sheets drawn and used in the course of an interview.
In addition, Sylvia’s CAC is resuming training for first responders with the remaining $15,000. “This gets us back to offering training to first responders about what to say and do if a child does an outcry of abuse at the scene,” says Frazier. This includes methods of reducing trauma to children such as not arresting alleged perpetrators in front of children and not making extemporaneous or hyperbolic claims like, “You’re going away for a long time”.
The team at Sylvia’s CAC is also expanding training to more partners in Boone County such as pregnancy centers, halfway houses, recovery and addiction treatment centers, childcare facilities, and places where mothers or adults work with or need to know how to protect kids.
Susie’s Place in Avon, Hendricks County
Susie’s Place CACs received $30,000 to offer therapy for child victims struggling due to COVID-19. While children of any abuse often require or need therapy, lack of mental health providers and cost can prevent many from receiving it.
“We realized going into the COVID-19 period kids weren’t going to be seen by trusted adults as much,” says Executive Director Emily Perry. “And we realized that when kids were finally seen they struggled with isolation.”
Like many adults who have had to lean on the poor simulacrum of digital connection in the past year, kids and teens have the added struggle of mental and physical development so crucial in their adolescence.
“Changes in routine, a loss of learning, misses in significant life events, and a constant sense of fear can negatively impact a child for the rest of their lives,” says Perry. The CDC’s early research on child mental health during the pandemic suggests a generation of kids may have shorter lifespans as a result.
Susie’s Place has begun connecting kids and families with Care to Change Counseling at their Avon, Indiana location. Telehealth is offered for those who need it, but in-person sessions are being encouraged. “We’re charging a $10 fee for accountability, but the rest is available at no cost based on the child’s needs,” says Perry.
Zoey’s Place CAC, Hancock County
Zoey’s Place in Hancock County received $15,000 from the United Way for new technology and training. The largest expense was NCA Trak, software from the National Children’s Alliance that records data about cases that’s useful for grant reporting and staff updates later. Crystal Wiley, Executive Director of Zoey’s Place, noted, “[NCA] gifted us two full days of training on NCA Trak, which saved us over $1,000.”
In addition, Wiley said a separate United Way of Central Indiana grant in 2020 “was so beneficial to helping us get started.” That initial $18,000 award was used for PPE, masks, thermometers, cleaning supplies, desks, a printer, and initial equipment needs.
This new $15,000 grant takes it a step further with some additional “day to day needs,” says Wiley. “We’re also looking to purchase training for our internal staff and iPads for kids to play on in the waiting room, accounting and professional services, and operational costs.” Zoey’s Place is Indiana’s newest CAC and all donations and awards are critical to its continued success.
Unlike the other grant recipients, Wiley says she has until September to spend the money and like the old adage encourages, “I won’t spend it all at once!”