FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/25/2021 – Contact: Eddie Smith, Childhelp, 865-637-1753, firstname.lastname@example.org
Childhelp stands alongside other child advocacy centers in Tennessee to advocate for additional funding for investigative and mental health services.
Knoxville, Tenn. – Childhelp gave testimony this week in support of Tennessee HB-0036 and SB-0213, which would establish a fee that would provide a new revenue source for child advocacy centers (CACs) in the state. The additional funding will go toward increasing investigative services for child abuse and neglect cases, as well as funding additional mental health services and prevention education.
Childhelp operates the Childhelp Children’s Center of East Tennessee, one of the 52 CACs in the state that provided more than 10,000 forensic interviews and 33,000 mental health sessions to children in fiscal year 2019.
State and federal funding for child advocacy centers in Tennessee has remained flat over the last several years, while caseloads have continued to increase. This has caused long wait lists for CACs to see children, despite the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services’ goal to increase rapid response times for child abuse investigations. Additional funding is needed to hire and train more staff, as well as begin to implement child abuse prevention education for the community.
“As children go back to school and our country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are going to see many survivors of abuse come forward,” Childhelp Director of Organizational Advancement Eddie Smith said. “Child advocacy centers such as our Childhelp Children’s Center of East Tennessee are there to answer the call, but we must have adequate funding and staff to meet that need. This additional revenue source will allow us to ensure that victims of abuse have immediate access to vital investigative and mental health resources, which we know is so important for a child recovering from trauma.”
Childhelp CEO Sara O’Meara said, “We were able to work on similar legislation in Arizona to provide resources for these critical centers. Childhelp opened one of the first Children’s Advocacy Centers in the nation and as a Tennessee native myself, I would love to see my home state honor these essential services with the necessary funding to put away predators and surround abused children with a network of partners to help them heal.”
If the bill is passed, each of the state’s 52 judicial districts will work to approve appropriate funding for every CAC, allowing each locality to provide input.
# # #
Founded by Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson in 1959, Childhelp® has brought the light of hope and healing into the lives of more than 11 million children as a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping abused, neglected and at-risk children. Childhelp’s programs and services include residential treatment services, children’s advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline serves children and adults nationwide 24/7 through phone, text and online chat. For more information, visit www.childhelp.org and follow Childhelp at facebook.com/childhelp, instagram.com/childhelp and twitter.com/childhelp.