Comerford secures $60,000 for Children’s Advocacy Center 

  • Comerford

  • Children’s Advocacy Center Director Irene Woods STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2019 4:55:22 PM

GREENFIELD — The Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin will breathe a little easier this year, thanks to a $60,000 earmark Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, secured in the state budget.

Comerford said when the CAC requested the money, she didn’t hesitate to fight for it.

“I visited the advocacy center during my campaign and was very impressed with what it does,” Comerford said. “I advocated for this money, and now I’m going to go back to my colleagues to figure out a systemic plan to support these folks. I’m glad we could do what we did this year.”

Comerford said she’s proud of the funds she was able to “bring home,” like the money for CAC, but admitted that she didn’t bring to her district what she would have liked.

“There were other things I didn’t get funds for, so I’ll have to just keep trying,” she said. “I work very closely on many of these things with the delegation, so we’ll all continue to do so.”

The delegation includes representatives Paul Mark, D-Peru; Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland; and Susannah Whipps, I-Athol; as well as senators Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and Anne Gobi, D-Spencer.

Children’s Advocacy Center Director Irene Woods said she is appreciative that the center got the extra money.

“The center runs completely on federal and state grants and fundraising,” Woods said. “This year, we have $200,000 to operate. That doesn’t leave a whole lot for operating expenses.”

Woods said the extra $60,000 from the state will allow the nonprofit — of which she is part-time director — to expand.

“It could mean hiring an administrative assistant or a full-time director,” she said. “It will help with strategic planning, like where and how will CAC go forth. We’ll have to decide the best way to use it for operating expenses.”

The Children’s Advocacy Center is primarily a safe, child-friendly space for children who have been sexually abused, Woods said. She said there is a team who interviews the child, and a case manager who meets with children and their families before connecting them to other community services they might need.

Woods said the center also follows up with children for as long as they need, and it offers referrals to other services so children don’t have to be placed on a waiting list.

“We’ll be taking all of this into consideration as we decide where to spend the money,” she said.

Comerford said when visiting the center last year, she got a sense of the struggles the Children’s Advocacy Center faces on a daily basis, as well as the nature of its work. She said what it is doing is critical to so much else in the region, meaning other social services, the district attorney’s office and more.

“There’s an incredible collaboration in Franklin County that includes the Children’s Advocacy Center,” Comerford said.

Woods said CAC does a lot of fundraising each year, and it also offers workshops like the one it will be offering in October. “Child Safety in Today’s World,” a presentation and discussion for all community members, will help people understand how to keep children safe in the 21st century. It will cover internet safety tips, healthy relationships, communicating about tough issues and more. It will be facilitated by Jackie Humphreys and Joanne Leonard, and will be offered three times in three different locations at no cost to participants:

■Wednesday, Oct. 2, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, 164 High St. in Greenfield.

■Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Athol Public Library, 568 Main St. in Athol.

■Thursday, Nov. 7, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Mohawk Trail Regional School, 26 Ashfield Road in Shelburne Falls.

Register with Joanne Leonard at 413-475-3401 or jleonard@cacfranklinnq.org.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.




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