Childhelp-Gila Children's Advocacy Center
CHILDHELP – Gila
Childhelp Children’s Mobile Advocacy Center has expanded its services to Gila County to take over what used to be the Gila Family Advocacy Center (GFAC) in Payson. GFAC opened its doors in April 2007 to provide treatment and prevention of child abuse under the umbrella of Time Out Inc., a local domestic violence shelter. But after three years of operations, the center was set to close due to budget constraints.
Thanks to a Department of Justice fund earmark, Childhelp stepped in and will now oversee operations of the program so that abused and neglected children in the area will continue to receive services.
The center is now called Childhelp-Gila and operates through the Childhelp Mobile Unit, a 38-foot Winnebago motor home that is driven to Payson and Globe, from Flagstaff, as needed. The arrangement works well and is designed so that rural families do not have to travel long distances to receive professional services. The Mobile Unit offers a cozy, child-friendly environment giving victims and their families a safe place where they can start to heal and recover from abusive situations.
Childhelp-Gila provides forensic interviews of children, ages 3-17 as well as family advocacy for abused children and their families. All children are offered a stuffed toy animal or quilt at the end of their visit. The Childhelp-Gila staff also works closely with a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of professionals including, law enforcement, prosecution, CPS, mental health, and CASA to ensure proactive joint investigations efforts, as required by AZ state statute. Two separate MDT’s, one in Payson and one in Globe, meet monthly to review cases and maximize communication among agencies. The Childhelp-Gila program manager and forensic interviewer also serves as the Children’s Justice Coordinator for Gila County, where she conducts Mandated Reporter and Protocol trainings as requested.
Please contact Barbara Thompson for more information on how to get involved.
Childhelp-Gila staff provides outreach services during community events such as the annual National Night Out program held at Green Valley Park in the summer and the annual Community Health and Care Fair held at Payson High School in the fall. The staff also gets involved in various child abuse prevention efforts during April – Child Abuse Prevention Month.