Sylvia’s Child Advocacy Center in Lebanon just got even better.
Executive Director Kassie Frazier and her multidisciplinary team of staff and board members used the COVID-19 lockdown to seek accreditation with the National Children’s Alliance of child advocacy centers. And they were rewarded in November.
SCAC is among only 10 of Indiana’s 26 child advocacy center to earn NCA accreditation.
It was no small task for center allies to comb through every protocol and practice to ensure compliance with NCA standards, while at the same time keeping court dates and caring for children.
Plus, acquiring accreditation required coordination with supporting team members from other agencies, such as police departments, the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Indiana Department of Child Services.
SCAC, situated in a former residence in Lebanon, serves Boone County children and families after an allegation of a crime is made. It is an emotionally and physically safe place for children to participate in forensic interviews with a skilled advocate. The advocate shares the recorded interviews with law enforcement and other involved agencies. That way the child need be interviewed only once, instead of once with each agency, while increasing their level of trauma.
Social workers are available, and the center pairs victims and families with mental health care as appropriate.
A consultant helped Frazier and the others analyze their practices to ensure a child-focused setting, victim support, standardized record keeping, a diverse board of directors, and everything in between.
They ferreted out deficiencies in 10 areas prescribed by the national association and made significant changes in two key areas.
“The biggest change for us was that our county prosecutor was always appointed the president of our board,” Frazier said. That practice dates to the organization’s founding under the authority of the prosecutor’s office.
But SCAC has since become an independent, non-profit organization, and the consultant advised another approach. Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood will rotate off the board at the end of his term, and the board will then elect a president and vice president, with the latter expected to move into the president’s role when the president rotates out.
The center also came up short on representation in diversity, age, race, and gender, Frazier said, adding, “Boone County is uniquely diversified between affluent suburban communities and rural farm communities, so we’re making sure everyone has representation on this board.”
Those who seek help at SCAC won’t notice anything different as a result of accreditation, Frazier said, adding, “We’re still doing the same services, but now we are following a protocol with a national alliance. That means someone is checking and making sure everything we do will benefit the child, reduce trauma to the child, and begin services for the family and the child.”
SCAC may now seek the national organization’s larger grants. SCAC will also receive valuable peer reviews and programs at no charge.
Mostly, Frazier said, accreditation ensures “we’re all continuing to do the same thing across the state to help the kids.”
Anyone who suspects a child is being abused should call Indiana’s child abuse hotline at 1-800-800-5556. The hotline is the clearinghouse for child abuse reports but sends information directly and quickly to the appropriate Boone County law enforcement agency for investigation.
SCAC is named in honor of Sylvia Likens, a young woman who lost her life when those around her looked the other way as she was systematically abused and ultimately murdered at the hands of a caregiver. Sylvia was born at Witham Hospital and attended Lebanon Schools as a child.
Anyone who would like to help SCAC with a cash donation may visit the website at www.SylviasCAC.org or send a check to 218 E. Washington St., Lebanon IN 46052.