Butterfly Bridge sees helpful quarter, approves future plans

Published 1:14 pm Wednesday, August 16, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center released its third quarter newsletter at the end of July to recap the nonprofits April, May and June months. BBCAC provided over 1,200 services to children and their families during the quarter across the three counties which it serves — Chilton, Autauga and Elmore. 75 of those services were the first time the nonprofit has served that individual.

“Some summers are busier than other summers, and this summer was definitely a busy summer,” Jana Zuelzke, executive director of BBCAC, said.

Of the over 1,200 services provided in the quarter, 661 were provided by the Clanton location, which was the highest between the three counties. There were 289 counseling sessions, 221 advocacy services, 122 cases staffed and 26 forensic interviews conducted during the quarter at the Clanton office. Forty-eight percent of the victims were between seven and 12 years old, 28% were six years old or younger and 24% were 13-18 years old. The statistics also showed female victims this quarter were involved in 64% of the cases.

Child Abuse Prevention Month was in April and helped kick off the quarter for Butterfly Bridge. The nonprofit also made strides with establishing its foster parent support group during the summer. The project had been in the works for a while after seeing the need for that in the community.

“We noticed that more and more kids that we serve are in the care of the state and in the foster care system more than ever,” Zuelzke said. “We really felt like that was a gap that needed to be filled … Those foster home parents need a lot of support, so we started that this summer and it has been a great success.”

Also during the quarter, BBCAC approved its 2023-2026 Strategic Plan. Every three years the nonprofit creates a roadmap for the organization and engages everyone associated with the nonprofit including the staff, board of directors and community sponsors.

Parts of the plan included ways the nonprofit can increase their brand and awareness, ways to solidify their multi-disciplinary team partnerships in the community and strengthening the foundation by making sure the best board of directors are representing them and their work.

Other portions of the plan will increase service capacity at the offices, and combat vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma is trauma that an individual gets and feels that is from someone else, which therapists and those involved with assisting in child abuse cases are familiar with on a daily basis. Resources to take care of the staff and help them cope with that trauma will be explored in the next three years as well.

Continuing to build their three offices was the final part of the plan, and the Clanton addition to the office is nearly complete. The addition will house a new on-site pediatric forensic medical program, which is the only service families and children have to travel outside of Chilton County for.

“We are very excited to start that in October,” Zuelzke said. “We are excited that we are going to be able to make it easier on the families when they are already going through so much. They can just come here, they are familiar with the staff here and have it done right here in Clanton.”

Four nurses are being trained to provide the highly specialized pediatric forensic medical examination, and Butterfly Bridge has found a medical director to oversee the program as well. The building is expected to be complete in September while the program will be up and running in Chilton County in October.

As children across the county head back to school this month, Brittani Ellison, the events and development coordinator for BBCAC, offered suggestions to parents and caregivers to ease any worries they may have sending their kids back to school.

“Being aware of what your children are involved in, and who they are with, (is important),” Ellison said. “I think it is important for parents and caregivers to be aware of who their child is around and monitor situations so children are not necessarily in one-on-one situations where they may be more vulnerable to abuse.”