The Grayson County Children’s Advocacy Center opened its doors Thursday afternoon to celebrate its 10-year anniversary and to show visitors the building’s recent 2,000-square-foot addition.
The Center is a place where children who have been abused can be given a forensic interview in a comfortable, kid-friendly setting. Therapy is also offered for children and families who have endured abuse.
“We work with all the law enforcement in Grayson County as well as CPS (Child Protective Services),” said Martha Nuckols, Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center, “and when they get reports of child abuse, they call us for a forensic interview, (which) is a specialized interview with children that is at their grade level and their developmental level.”
The forensic interviews are conducted in a room equipped with a camera and microphone. While a specially-trained forensic interviewer talks to the child, law enforcement and a member of CPS watch from another room. The facts gathered during the interview are then used by law enforcement to take further action.
The building also contains several therapy rooms, including rooms for art therapy, music therapy, play therapy and a room made for teenagers. There is a medical examination room where a sexual assault nurse examiner can administer a rape kit to children who were victims of sexual assault.
In 2013, more than 500 Grayson County children made outcries of abuse and were helped at the Center, said Sheriff’s Office Lt. and Children’s Advocacy Center Board Member Rickey Wheeler.
The addition to the building includes a conference room, kitchen and ample office space. It was built for $350,000, and was entirely funded by donations from foundations and individuals.
Board member and Director of Career Services at Austin College Margie Newman said she has lived in Grayson County for many years. When she was working as an adult probation officer, she saw how long it could take child abuse cases to go through the court system. The Children’s Advocacy Center, she said, helped remedy this problem.
“I have seen a great need for children to be protected. … So when they opened the .. Advocacy Center, it brought everybody together to work on behalf of the children. It made the process go just like that. And it’s an amazing, amazing service,” Newman said.