FDA kids pitch in at Advocacy Center

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Children from Fort Dale Academy spent Monday spreading good cheer as they decorated the Christmas Tree at the Children's Advocacy Center with hand-made ornaments.

Debbie Hollyfield's K-5 class at Fort Dale spent part of last week making the decorations, and with the assistance of a few chaperones, used their handiwork to bring the lobby of the Advocacy Center into the holiday spirit.

Advocacy Center Director Edith Williams said the decorating party was created as a way to get children from the area involved in the center, let them know why it is there and teach them that services are available if they or someone they know are the victims of abuse.

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"We want children to come here, and when they do we want them to feel at home and comfortable and safe," Williams said. "We have renovated this place to make it child friendly and we want children to know there is some place to go."

Williams said the Christmas season will be a time of giving at the center, and that plans are in the works to provide special gifts for each of the children who receive services at the center.

Currently, about 25 children from Butler and Crenshaw counties receive counseling services at the center which works with children who are victems of abuse and neglect. Williams said a counselor works with children one day a week at present, but she said those services will be expanded within the next year.

"We have already added a parenting class and we are hoping to provide support group therapy in the near future," Williams said. "We also want to get more involved in the community and in schools so children will know where to turn when they have problems."

The Children's Advocacy Center works closely with the Department of Human Resources to identify, treat and sometimes remove children from the homes of abusive parents. Aside from counseling and other services, the organization provides a location where professionals involved in abuse cases can sit together and formulate a plan for invidual cases. Williams said whenever an abuse case is reported, the reporter, DHR, law enforcement, the district attorney's office, mental health representatives and sometimes medical personnel, work together to look out for the child's best interest.

Williams said that many people in the community still do not know what services the advocacy center provides.

"We just want the community to know where we are and that we're here to help," she said.