Yesterday, the Eastern Shoshone tribe opened a Child Advocacy Center on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The center will offer emergency assistance to children and families who have been victimized by physical and sexual abuse.
The Northern Arapaho tribe previously operated a CAC in Ethete that served both tribes until funding ran out in recent years. The Shoshone have received 350-thousand dollars in federal tribal assistance grants to run the center. It will serve children who are enrolled members of any federally recognized tribe, or who are direct descendants of members.
Rachel Girt is the chapter coordinator for Child Advocacy Centers of Wyoming. She says the three remaining CACs in the state served almost 600 children in 2011, and losing the center on the reservation left a big gap in services.
“Child abuse victims are more likely to receive counseling, therapy and medical services. That is very necessary for the healing process to move forward,” Girt says. “And using a child advocacy center can save maybe a thousand dollars per investigation by the coordination of services.”
Eastern Shoshone Department of Juvenile Services Director Clarence Thomas says the new CAC is located in a house, instead of an office building or police station, and has a private room where an expert can conduct video-recorded forensic interviews of young victims.
“It won’t be intrusive,” Thomas says. “It’ll be something where the child will feel good and not feel scared.”
The single recorded interview can be used by law enforcement and government agencies to investigate and prosecute a crime, which saves money and can prevent re-traumatizing a victim with multiple interviews.
Thomas says the tribal assistance grants will cover operating expenses for the CAC for three years. He says he has plans to obtain more sustainable funding to keep the center going into the future.