Advocacy Center To Join Childhelp Family In Treating Abused Children

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A program dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse in Payson will stay open after a national nonprofit stepped up and took the program over May 1.

Childhelp now runs the Gila Family Advocacy Center.

The center, which opened in April 2007, serves victims of sexual assault/abuse, physical child abuse and child neglect under the umbrella of Time Out, Inc., a local domestic violence shelter.

Due to budgetary constraints and waning funds, the center was set to close May 1.

“After being notified of the closure by its program manager, Christy Walton, and thanks to a Department of Justice fund earmark, Childhelp stepped in and will now continue operations of the program so that abused and neglected children in the area are treated,” Childhelp said in a press release.

“We’re very excited to be able to come in and continue to serve the children and community of Gila County with the Childhelp Gila Child Advocacy Center,” said Maureen Basenberg, program director of the Childhelp Children’s Center of Arizona.

All staff from the center kept their jobs and became employees of Childhelp. Staff includes Walton, Barbara Thompson, lead victims advocate and Patti Frye, victims advocate.

“It means a tremendous amount to all of us to be able to continue our fight against child abuse and neglect in Gila County and I can’t think of a better organization than Childhelp to partner with in these efforts,” Walton said. 

The center will now operate from a mobile unit. Bob Gillette, mobile unit program manager, will drive the unit to Payson when Walton needs to conduct interviews or advocates need to work with victims.

As soon as a new mobile unit is purchased for Coconino County, the existing unit will be retired to Payson for use. At that time, a driver will be hired to take the mobile unit to Globe so interviews can be conducted there as well.

Childhelp focuses on advocacy, prevention, treatment and community outreach, including through the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline, (800) 4-A-CHILD.

For more information about Childhelp’s many programs of prevention and treatment and to learn how to get involved, call (480) 922-8212 or visit www.childhelp.org.

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