A Forsyth County nonprofit is hoping to expand its offerings for children who have suffered abuse.
At a recent work session, Forsyth County commissioners directed county staff to reach out to several local agencies after hearing members of the Forsyth County Child Advocacy Center speak about their need for a new medical exam facility on Bettis Tribble Gap Road.
District Attorney Penny Penn said such centers are necessary for both victims and law enforcement and that they can reduce the amount of trauma in “some child who is alleging some abuse, whether it is physical or sexual experiences.”
She said it also helps children to speak with someone other than an officer or employee from a government agency.
“Then, if there is disclosure of a crime, it is tremendously helpful to law enforcement who [are] investigating and also to prosecution,” Penn said.
Commissioners did not vote on the item and will discuss it again Sept. 26.
Exams were previously done at another child advocacy center in Hall County. Kelly Burndrett with FCCAC said Georgia Highlands Medical Services in Cumming had agreed to do the exams for a few months, though hours will be limited.
“It really needs to be done as soon as possible,” she said. “There can be medical evidence up to 72 hours, but best practice is to have it done immediately.”
There would be no cost to Forsyth County patients at the center due to a Victims of Crime Act grant.
Per county documents, FCCAC is requesting $294,714.48.
To be accredited, child advocacy centers must meet minimum standards for victim support and advocacy, medical evaluations, forensic interviews, mental health, case tracking, having a child-focused setting and others.
FCCAC is a nonprofit and not tied to the county or any other government agency. The center offers forensic interviews, a teen foundations program and Darkness to Light, a two-hour preventative training of child abuse.