Child Protect opens full-time office

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Forensic interviewer and therapist Jana Zuelzke demonstrates how children can place small figurines in the purple “moon sand” to tell their stories in the child therapy room at Child Protect.

A fresh start is something Child Protect Children’s Advocacy Center strives to help establish for children who are victims of physical and sexual abuse.

Now, Child Protect in Clanton is using a fresh start of its own to better serve children ages 3-17 in Chilton County.

Child Protect outgrew its rental space with Dr. Renee Smith on Lumac Road and before Christmas moved into a larger space at 603 Second Ave. N. in downtown Clanton.

“It was the first week in November that we started seeing kids here,” said Jana Zuelzke, forensic interviewer and therapist at Child Protect. “(In) this facility, we have rooms that have specific purposes.”

Zuelzke described the first facility as “a great starting place” but simply not large enough to accommodate the growing number of children needing assistance.

The new facility has a child therapy room, a room suited for teenagers and an interview room appropriate for all ages.

“We just wanted to make them comfortable,” Zuelzke said. “They’ve been through a trauma, and you want to have the correct tools for them to work through that, and a nice environment for them.”

A waiting area designed to appeal to adults and children, complete with leather couches, a TV and a variety of board games, greets visitors as soon as they walk in.

“It’s all about atmosphere,” Zuelzke said. “We want people to feel at home as soon as they walk in the front door.”

Child Protect in Clanton now offers full-time assistance, including both forensic interviewing and counseling services.

“It’s necessary that we are a full-time office now because there is a need,” Zuelzke said. “We’ve seen double the amount of new cases since this time last year unfortunately.”

Zuelzke said the extra space means children can attend separate counseling sessions in Clanton instead of traveling to Child Protect in Montgomery.

“This office allows families and children better access to an advocacy center than having to drive an hour away,” Zuelzke said.

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting at Child Protect’s new location next week.

In addition, Child Protect is partnering with Clanton’s Modern Woodmen of America this year for a fundraiser, as well as holding a raffle at the upcoming car shows in Clanton this spring.

“All money we get from the raffle will go to the children in Chilton County who have been abused,” Zuelzke said.