Child Protect center could open this fall

Published 11:04 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Few things are more traumatic to a child than sexual abuse. Unfortunately, the legal process that follows can result in a child being traumatized all over again.

A children’s advocacy center that serves Chilton County has made this process much easier on children. Now, because of the increasing number of cases in the area, Child Protect Children’s Advocacy Center of Montgomery wants to build a satellite office here.

“Reports of child abuse in this county have doubled in our statistics,” said Jana Conlee, a Chilton County native who has worked more than five years as a forensic interviewer and therapist for the non-profit organization.

When a child goes to a center to be interviewed, an advocate greets the family and a non-offending caregiver takes the child to an interview room.

Members of the Department of Human Resources and law enforcement are present.

Investigators monitor the forensic interview from a separate room. This way, everyone hears the same interview and is on the same page, Conlee explained.

“Law enforcement are great, but they’re trained to talk to the bad guys,” she said, adding that Child Protect strives to have a good relationship with law enforcement. “A lot of them don’t have a lot of specialized training in talking to kids.”

Each child receives a brand new teddy bear after the interview. Children also receive counseling.

The interviews are recorded and used as evidence.

They may be shown to a jury during a court case.

“That speaks volumes when they see that kid give the first account of what happened,” Conlee said.

She estimated it will take about $12,000 a year to keep a satellite office open in Chilton County. The goal is for the office to open in October.

“It’s going to make it easy for everyone,” Conlee said.