In 2017, the Redwood County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) served 45 youth.
One year later, that number jumped to 79.
According to Sarah Reynolds, CAC coordinator, the program served 10 children in January, with another 10 on the case load so far in February. Should that trend continue, the entity could easily serve more than 100 children in crisis before 2019 comes to an end.
Reynolds shared that information with the Redwood County Board of Commissioners Feb. 5 during its first scheduled meeting of the month, with the board members expressing a mix of feelings about that trend.
The fact that numbers are increasing indicates that the CAC is gaining a reputation as a place where people can send children who are facing traumatic experiences, but, on the other hand, it also demonstrates that there are that many children in the region who have become victims of some sort of crime.
The CAC in Redwood County, which is housed in the courthouse in Redwood Falls is fully grant funded.
Dollars come in from a variety of sources, and through those grants the CAC provides a service not only to Redwood County but to southwest Minnesota.
Marcia Miliken, who serves as the executive director of the Minnesota Children’s Alliance, which is a statewide coalition of child advocacy centers, said the Redwood County CAC is offering a great program for the region. She added even though it is still a young program it is gaining a reputation as a place law enforcement officials, county attorneys and others can utilize as a resource when a child needs to be interviewed following a traumatic event in their life, whether they have been the victim of sexual abuse or have witnessed a crime.
Jenna Peterson, Redwood County attorney, reiterated that fact, adding when she heard that a CAC was being developed in the county her vision of what it would be is what the CAC has become.
“This is a great resource,” said Peterson.
Miliken added the numbers indicate the need that exists for a program like this in southwest Minnesota. Although the CAC continues to work toward becoming accredited, Miliken said not reaching that status does not prevent the CAC from offering a quality program for the region. The biggest challenge toward that accreditation continues to be the need for medical service at a local level.
Reynolds said overcoming that barrier continues to be an area of emphasis for the CAC, but she said the local medical facility has informed her that the physicians are classified as contracted doctors and therefore it could not require an individual to fill that role. In the meantime the CAC is working toward what is known as associate membership at the national level.
The board expressed its appreciation of Reynolds and her staff for the success the program has become, with Lon Walling, county commissioner adding as he hears what has been going on it fits with what he envisioned the program to be when the board initially approved moving forward with it.
In addition to hearing the CAC progress report, the county board took action on a number of other items, including:
• Approving a request from Dustin Hunter, Redwood County veterans service officer, to send a letter to politicians who represent Minnesota in an effort to help move forward the veterans cemetery project in Redwood County.
• Setting a public hearing date for the adoption of the codified ordinance for the county. That hearing will be March 5 at 10 a.m. at the county government center.
• Approving the purchase of a new John Deere lawn mower from C&B Operations in Tracy at a cost of $25,062.19. The new mower will be used at Plum Creek Park. Scott Wold added should the piece of equipment not be available for purchase until after April 1 the cost will increase because of the added sales tax.
• Approving the employment of Nicholas Haupt as a Redwood County sheriff’s deputy effective Feb. 6.
• Approving a law enforcement grievance settlement, with the board agreeing to pay a stipend of $350 per month for the individual who serves on the drug task force.